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THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY 



VOL. I. 



^ 



I 




THE PORTRAIT OF 1 LADY 



VOL. I. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY 



BY 



HENRY JAMES, Jr., 

AUTHOR OF "THB BUR0FBAN8," BTC, :BTC. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 

VOL. I. 

XT 




ITonbim: 
MACMILLAN AND CO. 

1881. 

The Right of Translation and RtproduetUm is Reserved. 



US I. c . cf5"X{. 



CLAY AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS, 
BUNOAY, RUPFOLR. 



k 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



L 

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more 
agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as 
afternoon tea. There are circumstances in which, whether you 
partake of the tea or not — some people of course never do — the 
situation is in itself delightful Those that I have in mind in 
beginning to unfold this simple history offered an admirable 
setting to an innocent pastime. The implements of the little 
feast had been disposed upon the lawn of an old English 
country-house, in what I should call the perfect middle of a 
splendid summer afternoon. Part of the afternoon had waned, 
but much of it was left, and what was left was of the finest 
and rarest quality. Eeal dusk would not arrive for many hours ; 
but the flood of summer light had begun to ebb, the air had 
grown mellow, the shadows were long upon the smooth, dense 
turf. They lengthened slowly, however, and the scene expressed 
that sense of leisure still to come which is perhaps the chief 
source of one's enjoyment of such a scene at such an hour. 
From five o'clock to eight is on certain occasions a little eternity ; 
but on such an occasion as this the interval could be only an 

VOL. I. B 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



eternity of pleasure. The persons concerned in it were taking 
their pleasure quietly, and they were not of the sex which is 
supposed to furnish the regular votaries of the ceremony I have 
mentioned. The shadows on the perfect lawn were straight and 
angular ; they were the shadows of an old man sitting in a deep 
wicker-chair near the low table on which the tea had been 
served, and of two younger men strolling to and fro, in desultory 
talk, in front of him. The old man had his cup in his hand ; 
it was an unusually large cup, of a different pattern from the 
rest of the set, and painted in brilliant colours. He disposed 
of its contents with much circumspection, holding it for a long 
time close to his chin, with his face turned to the house. His 
companions had either finished their tea or were indifferent to 
their privilege; they smoked cigarettes as they continued to 
stroll. One of them, from time to time, as he passed, looked 
with a certain attention at the elder man, who, unconscious of 
observation, rested his eyes upon the rich red front of his 
dwelling. The house that rose beyond the lawn was a structure 
to repay such consideration, and was the most characteristic 
object in the peculiarly English picture I have attempted to 
sketch. 

It stood upon a low hill, above the river — the river being the 
Thames, at some forty miles from London. A long gabled front 
of red brick, with the complexion of which time and the weather 
had played all sorts of picturesque tricks, only, however, to 
improve and refine it, presented itself to the lawn, with its 
patches of ivy, its clustered chimneys, its windows smothered in 
creepers. The house had a name and a history ; the old gentle- 
man taking his tea would have been deligl\ted to tell you these 
things : how it had been built under Edward the Sixth, had 
offered a night's hospitality to the great Elizabeth (whose august 



THE POKTRAIT OF A LADY. 8 

person had extended itself upon a huge, magnificent, and terribly 
angular bed which still formed the principal honour of the 
sleeping apartments), had been a good deal bruised and defaced 
in Cromwell's wars, and then, under the Restoration, repaired 
and much enlarged; and how, finally, after having been remodelled 
and disfigured in the eighteenth century, it had passed into the 
careful keeping of a shrewd American banker, who had bought 
it originally because (owing to circumstances too complicated to 
set forth) it was ofiered at a great bargain ; bought it with much 
grumbling at its ugliness, its antiquity, its incommodity, and 
who now, at the end of twenty years, had become conscious of a 
real aesthetic passion for it, so that he knew all its points, and 
would tell you just where to stand to see them in combination, 
and just the hour when the shadows of its various protuberances 
— ^which fell* so softly upon the warm, weary brickwork — ^were 
of the right measure. Besides this, as I have said, he could 
have counted off most of the successive owners and occupants, 
several of whom were known to general fame ; doing so, however, 
with an undemonstrative conviction that the latest phase of its 
destiny was not the least honourable. The front of the house, 
overlooking that portion of the lawn with which we are con- 
cerned, was not the entrance-front; this was in quite another 
quarter. Privacy here reigned supreme, and the wide carpet 
of turf that covered the level hill-top seemed but the ex- 
tension of a luxurious interior. The great still oaks and 
beeches flung down a shade as dense as that of velvet curtains ; 
and the place was furnished, like a room, with cushioned 
seats, with rich-coloured rugs, with the books and papers that 
lay upon the grass. The river was at some distance; where 
the ground began to slope, the lawn, properly speaking, ceased. 
£at it was none the less a charming walk down to the water. 

B 2 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



The old gentleman at the tea-table, who had come from 
America thirty years before, had brought with him, at the top 
of his baggage, his American physiognomy ; and he had not 
only brought it with him, but he had kept it in the best order, 
so that, if necessary, he might have taken it back to his own 
country with perfect confidence. But at present, obviously, he 
was not likely to displace himself ; his journeys were over, and 
he was taking the rest that precedes the great rest. He had a 
narrow, clean-shaven face, with evenly distributed features, and 
an expression of placid acuteness. It was evidently a face in 
which the range of expression was not large ; so that the air of 
contented shrewdness was all the more of a merit. It seemed 
to tell that he had been successful in life, but it seemed to tell 
also that his success had not been exclusive and invidious, but 
had had much of the inoffensiveness of failure. He had certainly 
had a great experience of men ; but there was an almost rustic 
simplicity in the faint smile that played upon his lean, spacious 
cheek, and lighted up his humorous eye, as he at last slowly 
and carefully deposited his big tea-cup upon the table. He was 
neatly dressed, in well-brushed black ; but a shawl was folded 
upon his knees, and his feet were encased in thick, embroidered 
slippers. A beautiful collie dog lay upon the grass near his 
chair, watching the master's face almost as tenderly as the master 
contemplated the still more magisterial physiognomy of the 
house ; and a little bristling, bustling terrier bestowed a desultory 
attendance upon the other gentlemen. 

One of these was a remarkably well-made man of fivo-and- 
thirty, with a face as English as that of the old gentleman I 
have just sketched was something else ; a noticeably handsome 
face, fresh-coloured, fair, and frank, with firm, straight features, 
a lively grey eye, and the rich adornment of a chestnut beard. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



This person had a certain fortunate, brilliant exceptional look — 
the air of a happy temperament fertilised by a high civilisation 
— which would have made almost any observer envy him at a 
venture. He was booted and spurred, as if he had dismounted 
from a long ride ; he wore a white hat, which looked too large 
for him; he held his two hands behind him, and in one of 
them — a large, white, well-shaped fist — was crumpled a pair of 
soiled dog-skin gloves. 

His companion, measuring the length of the lawn beside him, 
was a person of quite another pattern, who, although he might 
have excited grave curiosity, would not, like the other, have 
provoked you to wish yourself, almost blindly, in his place. 
Tall, lean, loosely and feebly put together, he had an ugly, 
sickly, witty, charming face — furnished, but by no means 
decorated, with a straggling moustache and whisker. He 
looked clever and ill — a combination by no means felicitous ; 
and he wore a brown velvet jacket. He carried his hands in 
his pockets, and there was something in the way he did it that 
showed the habit was inveterate. His gait had a shambling, 
wandering quality'; he was not very firm on his legs. As I 
have said, whenever he passed the old man in the chair, he 
rested his eyes upon him ; and at this moment, with their faces 
brought into relation, you would easily have seen that they 
were father and son. 

The father caught his son's eye at last, and gave him a mild, 
responsive smile. 

" I am getting on very well," he said. 

" Have you drunk your tea 1 " asked the son. 

** Yes, and enjoyed it." 

** Shall I give you some more 1 " 

The old man considered, placidly. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



«•■ 



" Well, I guess I will wait and see." 

He had^ in speaking, the American tone. 

" Are you cold ? " his son inquired. 

The father slowly rubbed his legs. 

« Well, I don't know. I can't tell till I feeL" 

*' Perhaps some one might feel for you," said the younger 
man, laughing. 

" Oh, I hope some one will always feel for me ! Don't you 
feel for me. Lord Warburton ? " 

*^ Oh yes, immensely," said the gentleman addressed as Lord 
Warburton, promptly. " I am bound to say you look wonder* 
fully comfortable." 

"Well, I suppose I am, in most respects." And the old 
man looked down at his green shawl, and smoothed it over his 
knees. '* The fact is, I have been comfortable so many years 
that I suppose I have got so used to it I don't know it." 

*'Yes, that's the bore of comfort," said Lord Warburton. 
" We only know when we are uncomfortable." 

"It strikes me that we are rather particular," said his 
oompanion. 

" Oh yes, there is no doubt we're particular," Lord Warbur- 
ton murmured. 

And then the three men remained silent a while ; the two 
younger ones standing looking down at the other, who presently 
asked for more tea. 

"I should think you would be very unhappy with that 
shawl," said Lord Warburton, while his companion filled the 
old man's cup again* 

" Oh no, he must have the shawl I " cried the gentleman in 
the velvet coat. " Don't put such ideas as that into his head." 

" It belongs to my wife," said the old man, simply. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



" Oh, if it's for sentimental reasons " And Lord War- 
burton made a gesture of apology. 

" I si4)po8e I must give it to her when she comes/' the old 
man went on. 

" You will please to do nothing of the kind. You will keep 
it to cover your poor old legs." 

" Well, you mustn't abuse my legs," said the old man. " I 
guess they are as good as yours." 

" Oh, you are perfectly free to abuse mine," his son replied, 
giving him his tea. 

*' Well, we are two lame ducks ; I don't think there is much 
diffei'ence." 

" I am much obliged to you for calling me a duck. How is 
your tea 1 " 

" WeU, it's rather hot" 

" That's intended to be a merit." 

" Ah, there's a great deal of merit," murmured the old man, 
kindly. " He's a very good nurse, Lord Warburton." 

^ Isn't he a bit clumsy 9 " asked his lordship. 

" Oh no, he's not clumsy — considering that he's an invalid 
himself. He's a very good nurse — for a sick-nurse. I call him 
my sick-nurse because he's sick himself." 

" Oh, come, daddy ! " the ugly young man exclaimed. 

"Well, you are; I wish you weren't. But I suppose you 
can't help it" 

" I might try : that's an idea," said the young man. 

" Were you ever sick. Lord Warburton 1 *' his father asked. 

Lord Warburton considered a moment. 

" Yes, sir, once, in the Persian Gulf." 

" He is making light of you, daddy," said the other young 
man. '^ That's a sort of joke." 



8 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" Well, there seem to be so many sorts now," daddy replied, 
serenely. " You don't look as if you had been sick, any way, 
Lord Warburton." 

" He is sick of life ; he was just telling mo so ; going on 
fearfully about it," said Lord Warburton* s friend. 

" Is that true, sir 1 " asked the old man gravely. 

" If it is, your son gave me no consolation. He's a wretched 
fellow to talk to — a regular cynic. He doesn't seem to believe 
anything." 

"That's another sort of joke," said the person accused of 
cynicism. 

" It's because his health is so poor," his father explained to 
Lord Warburton. " It affects his mind, and colours his way 
of looking at things ; he seems to feel as if he had never had 
a chance. But it's almost entirely theoretical, you know ; it 
doesn't seem to affect his spirits. I have hardly ever seen him 
when he wasn't cheerful — about as he is at present. He often 
cheers me up." 

The young man so described looked at Lord Warburton and 
laughed. 

" Is it a glowing eulogy or an accusation of levity 1 Should 
you like me to carry out my theories, daddy ? " 

" By Jove, we should see some queer things ! " cried Lord 
Warburton. 

" I hope you haven't taken up that sort of tone," said the 
old man. 

" Warburton's tone is worse than mine ; he pretends to be 
bored. I am not in the least bored; I find life only too 
interesting." 

" Ah, too interesting ; you shouldn't allow it to be that, you 
know ! " 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 9 

" I am never ^bored when I come here," said Lord Warburton. 
" One gets such uncommonly good talk." 

" Is that another sort of joke 1 " asked the old man. ** You 
have no excuse for being bored anywhere. When I was your 
age, I had never heard of such a thing." 

" You must have developed very late." 

"No, I developed very quick; that was just the reason. 
When I was twenty years old, I was very highly developed 
indeed. I was working, tooth and naU. You wouldn't be 
bored if you had something to do ; but all you young men are 
too idle. You think too much of your pleasure. You are 
too fastidious, and too indolent, and too rich." 

"Oh, I say," cried Lord Warburton, "you're hardly the 
person to accuse a fellow-creature of being too rich I " 

"Do you mean because I am a banker?" asked the old 
man. 

" Because of that, if you like; and because you are so ridicul- 
ously wealthy." 

" He isn't very rich," said the other young man, indicating his 
father. "He has given away an immense deal of money." 

" Well, I suppose it was his own," said Lord Warburton ; 
" and in that case could there be a better proof of wealth 1 Let 
not a public benefactor talk of one's being too fond of pleasure." 

" Daddy is very fond of pleasure^-of other people's." 

The old man shook his head. 

" I don't pretend to have contributed anything to the amuse- 
ment of my contemporaries." 

" My dear father, you are too modest ! " 

" That's a kind of joke, sir," said Lord Warburton. 

" You young men have too many jokes. When there are no 
jokes, you have nothing left." 



10 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



" Fortunately there are always more jokes," the ugly young 
man remarked. 

" I don't believe it — ^I believe things are getting more serious. 
You young men will find that out" 

"The increasing seriousness of things — that is the great 
opportunity of jokes." 

" They will have to be grim jokes," said the old man* " I am 
convinced there will be great changes; and not all for the 
better." 

"I quite agree with you, sir," Lord Warburton declared. 
" I am very sure there will be great changes, and that all eorts 
of queer things will happen. That's why I find so much 
difficulty in applying your advice ; you know you told me the 
other day that I ought to ^take hold' of something. One 
hesitates to take hold of a thing that may the next moment be 
knocked sky-high." 

"You ought to take hold of a pretty woman," said his 
companion. " He is trying hard to fall in love," he ^ added, by 
way of explanation, to his father. 

" The pretty women themselves may be sent flying ! " Lord 
Warburton exclaimed. 

"No, no, they will be firm," the old man rejoined; "they 
will not be affected by the social and political changes I just 
referred to." 

"You mean they won't be abolished? Very well, then, I 
will lay hands on one as soon as possible, and tie her round my 
neck as a life-preserver." 

" The ladies will save us," said the old man ; " that is, the 
best of them will — ^f or I make a difference between them. Make 
up to a good one and marry her, and your life will become much 
more interesting." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 11 

A momentary silence marked perhaps on the part of his 
auditors a sense of the magnanimity of this speech, for it was a 
secret neither for his son nor for his visitor that his own 
experiment in matrimony had not been a happy one. As he 
said, however, he made a difference ; and these words may have 
been intended as a confession of personal error; though of 
oourse it was not in place for either of his companions to remark 
that apparently the lady of his choice had not been one of the 
best 

'' If I marry an interesting woman, I shall be interested : is 
that what you say ? " Lord Warburton asked. " I am not at all 
keen about marrying — your son misrepresented me ; but there 
is no knowing what an interesting woman might do with me.'' 

*' I should like to see your idea of an interesting woman," said 
his friend. 

" My dear fellow, you can't see ideas — especially such ethereal 
ones as mine. If I could only see it myself — ^that would be a 
great step in advance." 

" Well, you may fall in love with whomsoever you please ; 
but you must not fall in love with my niece," said the old man. 

His son broke into a laugh. '' He will think you mean that 
as a provocation ! My dear father, you have lived with the 
English for thirty years, and you have picked up a good many 
of the things they say. But you have never learned the things 
they don't say ! " 

"I say what I please," the old man declared, with all his 
serenity. 

** I haven't the honour of knowing your niece," Lord War- 
burton said. " I think it is the first time I have heard of her." 

** She is a niece of my wife's ; Mrs. Touchett brings her to 
England.* 



12 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

Then young Mr. Touchett explained. "Mjr mother, you 
know, has been spending the winter in America, and we are 
expecting her back. She writes that she has discovered a niece, 
and that she has invited her to come with her." 

" I see — very kind of her/' said Lord Warburton. " Is the 
young lady interesting ] " 

" We hardly know more about her than you ; my mother has 
not gone into details. She chiefly communicates with us by 
means of telegrams, and her telegrams are rather inscrutable. 
They say women don't know how to write them, but my mother 
has thoroughly mastered the art of condensation. ' Tired America, 
hot weather awful, return England with niece, first steamer, 
decent cabin.' That's the sort of message we get from her — that 
was the last that came. But there had been another before, 
which I think contained the first mention of the niece. * Changed 
hotel, very bad, impudent clerk, address here. Taken sister's girl, 
died last year, go to Europe, two sisters, quite independent.* 
Over that my father and I have scarcely stopped puzzling ; it 
seems to admit of so many interpretations." 

"There is one thing very clear in it," said the old man; 
" she has given the hotel-clerk a dressing." 

'* I am not sure even of that, since he has driven her from the 
field. We thought at first that the sister mentioned might be 
the sister of the clerk ; but the subsequent mention of a niece 
seems to prove that the allusion is to one of my aunts. Then 
there was a question as to whose the two other sisters were ; they 
are probably two of my late aunt's daughters. But who is 
* quite independent,' and in what sense is the term used 1 — that 
point is not yet settled. Does the expression apply more 
particularly to the young lady my mother has adopted, or does it 
characterise her sisters equally 1 — and is it used in a moral or in 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 13 

a financial sense 1 Does it mean that they have been left well 
off, or that they wish to be under no obligations ? or does it 
simply mean that they are fond of their own way 1 " 

" Whatever else it means, it is pretty sure to mean that," Mr. 
Touchett remarked. 

" You will see for yourself," said Lord Warburton. " When 
does Mrs. Touchett arrive 1 " 

" We are quite in the dark ; as soon as she can find a decent 
cabin. She may be waiting for it yet ; on the other hand, she 
may already have disembarked in England." 

" In that case she would probably have telegraphed to you." 

"She never telegraphs when you would expect it — only 
when you don't," said the old maa " She likes to drop on me 
suddenly ; she thinks she will find me doing something wrong. 
She has never done so yet^ but she is not discouraged." 

" It's her independence," her son explained, more favourably. 
"Whatever that of those young ladies may be, her own is a 
match for it. She likes to do everytliing for hei*self, and has no 
belief in any one's power to help her. She thinks me of no 
more use than a postage-stamp without gum, and she would 
never forgive me if I should presume to go to Liverpool to meet 
her." 

" Will you at least let me know when your cousin arrives V 
Lord Warburton asked. 

" Only on the condition I have mentioned — that you don't 
fall in love with her ! " Mr. Touchett declared. 

"That strikes me as hard. Don't you think me good 
enough 1 " 

**I think you too good — because I shouldn't like her to marry 
you. She hasn't come here to look for a husband, I hope ; so 
many young ladies are doing that, as if there were no good ones 



14 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

at home. Then she is probably engaged; American girls are 
usually engaged, I believe. Moreover, I am not sure, after all, 
that you would be a good husband." 

" Very likely she is engaged ; I have known a good many 
American girls, and they always were ; but I could never see 
that it mad^ any difference, upon my word ! As for my being 
a good husband, I am not sure of that either ; one can but 
tryl" 

" Try as much as you please, but don't try on my niece," 
said the old man, whose opposition to the idea was broadly 
humorous. 

" Ah, well," said Lord Warburton, with a humour broader 
still, '* perhaps, after all, she is not worth trying on ! " 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 15 



IL 

While this exchange of pleasantries took place between the 
two, Ralph Touchett wandered away a little, with his usual 
slouching gait, his hands in his pockets, and his little rowdyish 
terrier at his heels. His face was turned towards the house, but 
his eyes were bent, musingly, upon the lawn ; so that he had 
been an object of observation to a person who had just made 
her appearance in the doorway of the dwelling for some 
moments before he perceived her. His attention was called 
to her by the conduct of his dog, who had suddenly darted 
forward, with a little volley of shrill barks, in which the note 
of welcome, however, was more sensible than that of defiance. 
The person in question was a young lady, who seemed immedi- 
ately to interpret the greeting of the little terrier. He advanced 
with great rapidity, and stood at her feet, looking up and barking 
hard ; whereupon, without hesitation, she stooped and caught 
him in her hands, holding him face to face while he continued his 
joyous demonstration. His master now had had time to follow 
and to see that Bunchie's new friend was a tall girl in a black 
dress, who at first sight looked pretty. She was bare-headed, as 
if she were staying in the house — a fact which conveyed per- 
plexity to the son of its master, conscious of that immunity from 
visitors which had for some time been rendered necessary by the 



16 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



latter's ill-health. Meantime the two other gentlemen had also 
taken note of the new-comer. 

" Dear me, who is that strange woman 1 " Mr. Touchett had 
asked. 

" Perhaps it is Mrs. Touchett's niece — the independent young 
lady," Lord Warburton suggested. " 1 think she must be, from 
the way she handles the dog." 

The collie, too, had now allowed his attention to be diverted, 
and he trotted toward the young lady in the doorway, slowly 
setting his tail in motion as he went. 

" But where is my wife, then 1 " murmured the old man. 

" I suppose the young lady has left her somewhere : that's a 
part of the independence." 

The girl spoke to Ealph, smiling, while she still held up the 
terrier. " Is this your little dog, sirl " 

" He was mine a moment ago ; but you have suddenly 
acquired a remarkable air of property in him." 

" Couldn't we share him 1 " asked the girl. '* He's such a little 
darling." 

Ealph looked at her a moment ; she was unexpectedly pretty. 
" You may have him altogether," he said. 

The young lady seemed to have a great deal of confidence, 
both in herself and in others ; but this abrupt generosity made 
her blush. "I ought to tell you that I am probably your 
cousin," she murmured, putting down the dog. " And here's 
another 1 " she added quickly, as the collie came up. 

" Probably 1 " the young man exclaimed, laughing. " I sup- 
posed it was quite settled I Have you come with my 
mother 1 " 

" Yes, half-an-hour ago." 

'' And has she deposited you and departed again 1 " 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 17 

" !No, she went straight to her room ; and she told me that, if 
I should see you, I was to say to you that you must come to her 
there at a quarter to seven." 

The young man looked at his watch. "Thank you very 
much; I shall be punctual.'' And then he looked at his cousin. 
"You are very welcome here," he went on. " I am delighted 
to see you." 

She was looking at everything, with an eye that denoted quick 
perception — at her companion, at the two dogs, at the two 
gentlemen under the trees, at the beautiful scene that surrounded 
her. " I have never seen anything so lovely as this place," she 
said. " I have been all over the house ; it's too enchanting." 

" I am sorry you should have been here so long without our 
knowing it." 

" Your mother told me that in England people arrived very 
quietly ; so I thought it was all right. Is one of those gentle- 
men your father ] " 

" Yes, the elder one — the one sitting down," said Ealph. 

The young girl gave a laugh. " I don't suppose it's the other. 
Who is the other 1 " 

" He is a friend of ours — Lord Warburton." 

" Oh, I hoped there would be a lord ; it's just like a novel ! " 
And then — " you adorable creature ! " she suddenly cried, 
stooping down and picking up the little terrier again. 

She remained standing where they had met, making no offer 
to advance or to speak to Mr. Touchett, and while she lingered 
in the doorway, slim and charming, her interlocutor wondered 
whether she expected the old man to come and pay her his 
respects. American girls were used to a great deal of deference, 
and it had been intimated that this one had a high spirit. 
Indeed, Ealph could see that in her face. 

VOL. L 



18 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" Won't you come and make acquaintance with my father 1 ' 
he nevertheless ventured to ask. " He is old and infirm — ho 
doesn't leave his chair." 

" Ah, poor man, I am very sorry I " the girl exclaimed, 
immediately moving forward, " I got the impression from your 
mother that he was rather — rather strong." 

Ealph Touchett was silent a moment. 

" She has not seen him for a year.'* 

" Well, he has got a lovely place to sit. Come along, little 
dogs." 

*^ It's a dear old place," said the young man, looking side wise 
at his neighbour. 

" What's his name 1 " she asked, her attention having reverted 
to the terrier again. 

" My father's name 1 " 

** Yes," said the young lady, humorously ; " but don't tell him 
I asked you." 

They had come by this time to where old Mr. Touchett was 
sitting, and he slowly got up ^from his chair to introduce 
himself. 

"My mother has arrived," said Ealph, "and this is Miss 
Archer." 

The old man placed his two hands on her shoulders, looked 
at her a moment with extreme benevolence, and then gallantly 
kissed her. 

" It is a great pleasure to me to see you here ; but I wish you 
had given us a chance to receive you." 

" Oh, we were received," said the girl. " There were about a 
dozen servants in the hall. And there was an old woman 
curtseying at the gate." 

** We can do better than that — ^if we have notice ! " And the 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 19 



old man stood there, smiling, nibbing liis liands, and slowly 
sliaking his head at her. "But Mrs. Touchett doesn't like 
receptions." 

" She went straight to her room." 

« Yes — and locked herself in. She always does that. "Well, 
I suppose I shall see her next week." And Mrs. Touchett's 
husband slowly resumed his former posture. 

" Before that," said Miss Archer. " She is coming down to 
dinner — at eight o'clock. Don't you forget a quarter to seven," 
she added, turning with a smile to Ealph. 

" What is to happen at a quarter to seven 1 " 

" I am to see my mother," said Ralph. 

" Ah, happy boy I " the old man murmured. " You must sit 
down — you must have some tea," he went on, addressing his 
wife's niece. 

"They gave me some tea in my room the moment I arriv(^d," 
this young lady answered. " I am sorry you are out of health," 
she added, resting her eyes upon her venerable host. 

" Oh, I'm an old man, my dear ; it's time for me to be old. 
But I shall be the better for having you here." 

She had been looking all round her again — at the lawn, the 
great trees, the reedy, silvery Thames, the beautiful old house ; 
and while engaged in this survey, she had also narrowly scruti- 
nised her companions ; a comprehensiveness of observation easily 
conceivable on the part of a young woman who was evidently 
both intelligent and excited. She had seated herself, and had 
put away the little dog ; her white hands, in her lap, were folded 
upon her black dress ; her head was erect, her eye brilliant, her 
flexible figure turned itself lightly this way and that, in sym- 
pathy with the alertness with which she evidently caught im- 
pressions. Her impressions were numerous, and they were all 



c 2 



20 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY,' 

reflected in a clear, still smile. " I have never seen anything so 
beautiful as this," she declared. 

" It's looking very well,** said Mr. Touchett " I know the 
way it strikes you. I have been through all that. But you are 
very beautiful yourself," he added with a politeness by no means 
crudely jocular, and with the happy consciousness that his 
advanced age gave him the privilege of saying such things^ 
even to young girls who might possibly take alarm at them. 

What degree of alarm this young girl took need not be exactly 
measured ; she instantly rose, however, with a blush which was 
not a refutation. 

" Oh yes, of course, Fm lovely J " she exclaimed quickly, with 
a little laugh. " How old is your house 1 Is it Elizabethan 1 " 

« It's early Tudor," said Ralph Touchett 

She turned toward him, watching his face a little. " Early 
Tudor ] How very delightful ! And I suppose there are a great 
many others." 

'* There are many much better ones." 

*' Don't say that, my son ! " the old man protested, " There 
is nothing better than this." 

" I have got a very good one ; I think in some respects it's 
rather better," said Lord Warburton, who as yet had not spoken, 
but who had kept an attentive eye upon Miss Archer. He bent 
towards her a little smiling ; he had an excellent manner with 
women. The girl appreciated it in an instant ; she had not for- 
gotten that this was Lord Warburton. " I should like very 
much to show it to you," he added. 

" Don't believe him," cried the old man ; " don't look at it ! 
It's a wretched old barrack — not to be compared with this." 

" I don't know — I can't judge," said the girl, smiling at Lord 
Warburton, 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 21 

In this discussion, Ealph Touchett took no interest whatever ; 
he stood with his hands in his pockets, looking greatly as if 
he should like to renew his conversation with his new-found 
cousin. 

" Are you very fond of dogs 1 " he inquired, by way of begin- 
ning ; and it was an awkward beginning for a clever man. 

" Very fond of them indeed.*' 

"You must keep the terrier, you know," he went on, still 
awkwardly. 

" I will keep him while I am here, with pleasure." 

" That will be for a long time, I hope." 

" Yoi^ are very kind. I hardly know. My aunt must settle 
that." 

" I will settle it with her — at a quarter to seven." And Ealph 
looked at his watch again. 

** I am glad to be here at all," said the girl. 

" I don't believe you allow things to be settled for you." 

** Oh yes ; if they are settled as I like them." 

" I shall settle this as I like it," said Ealph. ** It*s most 
unaccountable that we should never have known you." 

" I was there — you had only to come and see me," 

" There 1 Where do you mean 1 " 

" In the United States : in New York, and Albany, and other 
places." 

" I have been there — all over, but I never saw you. I can't 
make it out." 

Miss Archer hesitated a moment. 

" It was because there had been some disagreement between 
your mother and my father, after my mother's death, which took 
place when I was a child. In consequence of it, we never 
expected to see you." 



22 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" Ah, but I don't embrace all my mother'a quarrels — Heaven 
forbid ! " the young man cried. " You have lately lost your 
father 1 " he went on, more gravely. 

" Yes ; more than a year ago. After that my aunt was very 
kind to me ; she came to see me, and proposed that I should 
come to Europe." 

" I see," said Ealph. " She has adopted you." 

" Adopted me 1 " The girl stared, and her blush came back 
to her, together with a momentary look of pain, which gave her 
interlocutor some alarm. He had under-estimated the effect of his 
words. Lord Warburton, who appeared constantly desirous of 
a nearer view of Miss Archer, strolled toward the two cousins at 
the moment, and as he did so, she rested her startled eyes upon 
him. " Oh, no ; she has not adopted me," she said. " I am 
not a candidate for adoption." 

" I beg a thousand pardons," Kalph murmured. " I meant — 
I meant ^" He hardly knew what he meant. 

" You meant she has taken me up. Yes ; she likes to take 
people up. She has been very kind to me ; but," she added, 
with a certain visible eagerness of desire to be explicit, " I am 
very fond of my liberty." 

" Are you talking about Mrs. Touchett 1 " the old man called 
out from his chair. " Come here, my dear, and tell me about 
her. I am always thankful for information." 

The girl hesitated a moment, smiling. 

" She is really very benevolent," she answered ; and then she 
went over to her uncle, whose mirth was excited by her words. 

Lord Warburton was left standing with Ralph Touchett, to 
whom in a moment he said — 

" You wished a while ago to see my idea of an interesting 
woman. There it is 1 " 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 28 



III. 

Mrs. Touchett was certainly a person of many oddities^ of 
which her behaviour on returning to her husband's house after 
many months was a noticeable specimen. She had her own 
way of doing all that she did, and this is the simplest descrip- 
tion of a character wliich, although it was by no means without 
benevolence, rarely succeeded in giving an impression of softness. 
Mrs. Touchett might do a great deal of good, but she never 
pleased. This way of her own, of which she was so fond, was 
not intrinsically offensive — ^it was simply very sharply distin- 
guished from the ways of others. The edges of her conduct 
were so very clear-cut that for susceptible persons it sometimes 
had a wounding effect. This purity of outline was visible in 
her deportment during the first hours of her return from 
America, under circumstances in which it might have seemed 
that her first act would have been to exchange greetings with 
her husband and son. Mrs. Touchett, for reasons which she 
deemed excellent, always retired on such occasions into impene- 
trable seclusion, postponing the more sentimental ceremony until 
she had achieved a toilet which had the less reason to be of high 
importance as neither beauty nor vanity were concerned in it. 
She was a plain-faced old woman, without coquetry and without 
any great elegance^ but with an extreme respect for her own 



24 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



motives. She was usually prepared to explain these — when the 
explanation was asked as a favour ; and in such a case they 
proved totally dififerent from those that had been attributed to 
her. She was virtually separated from her husband, but she 
appeared to perceive nothing irregular in the situation. It had 
become apparent, at an early stage of their relations, that they 
should never desire the same thing at the same moment, and this 
fact had prompted her to rescue disagreement from the vulgar 
realm of accident. She did what she could to erect it into a 
law — a much more edifying aspect of it — by going to live 
in Florence, where she bought a house and established herself; 
leaving her husband in England to take care of his bank. This 
arrangement greatly pleased her; it was so extremely definite. 
It struck her husband in the same light, in a foggy square in 
London, where it was at times the most definite fact he discerned ; 
but he would have preferred that discomfort should have a 
greater vagueness. To agree to disagree had cost him an eflPort ; 
he was ready to agree to almost anything but that, and saw no 
reason why either assent or dissent should be so terribly consist- 
ent. Mrs. Touchett indulged in no regrets nor speculations, 
and usually came once a year to spend a month with her hus- 
band, a period during which she apparently took pains to con- 
vince him that she had adopted the right system. She was not 
fond of England, and had three or four reasons for it to which 
she currently alluded ; they bore upon minor points of British 
civilisation, but for Mrs. Touchett they amply justified non- 
residence. She detested bread-sauce, which, as she said, looked 
like a poultice and tasted like soap ; she objected to the con- 
sumption of beer by her maid-servants ; and she afl&rmed that 
the British laundress (Mrs. Touchett was very particular about 
the appearance of her linen) was not a mistress of her art. At 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 25 

fixed intervals she paid a visit to her own country; but this last 
one had been longer than any of its predecessors. 

She had taken up her niece — there was little doubt of that. 
One wet afternoon, some four months earlier than the occurrence 
lately narrated, this young lady had been seated alone with a 
book. To say that she had a book is to say that her solitude did 
not press upon her ; for her love of knowledge had a fertilising 
quality and her imagination was strong. There was at this time, 
however, a want of lightness in her situation, which the arrival 
of an unexpected visitor did much to dispel. The visitor had 
not been announced; the girl heard her at last walking about 
the adjoining room. It was an old house at Albany — a large, 
square, double house, with a notice of sale in the windows of the 
parlour* There were two entrances, one of which had long been 
out of use, but had never been removed. They were exactly 
alike — ^large white doors, with an arched frame and wide side- 
lights, perched upon little " stoops " of red stone, which descended 
sidewise to the brick pavement of the street. The two houses 
together formed a single dwelling, the party-wall having been 
removed and the rooms placed in communication. These rooms, 
above-stairs, were extremely numerous, and were painted all over 
exactly alike, in a yellowish white which had grown sallow with 
time. On the third floor there was a sort of arched passage, 
connecting the two sides of the house, which Isabel and her 
sisters used in their childhood to call the tunnel, and which, 
though it was short and well-lighted, always seemed to the girl 
to be strange and lonely, especially on winter afternoons. She 
had been in the house, at different periods, as a child ; in those 
days her grandmother lived there. Then there had been an 
absence of ten years, followed by a return to Albany before her 
fSather's death. Her grandmother, old Mrs. Archer, had exer- 



26 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

cised, chiefly within the limits of the family, a laige hospitality 
in the early period^ and the little girls often spent weeks under 
her roof — ^weeks of which Isabel had the happiest memory. The 
manner of life was different from that of he» own home — ^larger, 
more plentiful, more sociable; the discipline of the nursery was 
delightfully vague, and the opportunity of listening to the con- 
versation of one's elders (which with Isabel was a highly- valued 
pleasure) almost unbounded. There was a constant coming and 
going ; her grandmother's sons and daughters, and their children, 
appeared to be in the enjoyment of standing invitations to stay 
with her, so that the house offered, to a certain extent, the appear- 
ance of a bustling provincial inn, kept by a gentle old landlady 
who sighed a great deal and never presented a bill. Isabel, of 
course, knew nothing about bills ; but even as a child she thought 
her grandmother^s dwelling picturesque. There was a covered 
piazza behind it, furnished with a swing, which was a source of 
tremulous interest ; and beyond this was a long garden, sloping 
down to the stable, and containing certain capital peach-trees. 
Isabel had stayed with her grandmother at various seasons ; but, 
somehow, all her visits had a flavour of peaches. On the other 
side, opposite, across the street, was an old house that was called 
the Dutch House — a peculiar structure, dating from the earliest 
colonial time, composed of bricks that had been painted yellow, 
crowned with a gable that was pointed out to strangers, defended 
by a rickety wooden paling, and standing sidewise to the street 
It was occupied by a primary school for children of both sexes, 
kept in an amateurish manner by a demonstrative lady, of whom 
Isabel's chief recollection was that her hair was puffed out very 
much at the temples and that she was the widow of some one 
of consequence. The little girl had been offered the opportunity 
of laying a foundation of knowledge in this establishment ; but 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 27 

having spent a single day in it, she had expressed great disgust 
with the place, and had been allowed to stay at home, where in 
the September days, when the windows of the Dutch House 
were open, she used to hear the hum of childish voices repeating 
the multiplication table — an incident in which the elation of 
liberty and the pain of exclusion were indistinguishably mingled. 
The foundation of her knowledge was really laid in the idleness 
of her grandmother's house, where, as most of the other inmates 
were not reading people, she had uncontrolled use of a library 
full of books with frontiRpieces, which she used to climb upon 
a chair to take down. When she had found one to her taste — 
she was guided in the selection chiefly by the frontispiece — she 
carried it into a mysterious apartment which lay beyond the 
library, and which was called, traditionally, no one knew why, 
the office. Whose office it had been, and at what period it had 
flourished, she never learned ; it was enough for her that it 
contained an echo and a pleasant musty smell, and that it was 
a chamber of disgrace for old pieces of furniture, whose infirmities 
were not always apparent (so that the disgrace seemed unmerited, 
and rendered them victims of injustice), and with which, in the 
manner of children, she had established relations almost human, 
or dramatic. There was an old haircloth sofa, in especial, to 
which she had confided a hundred childish sorrows. The place 
owed much of its mysterious melancholy to the fact that it was 
properly entered from the second door of the house, the door 
that had been condemned, and that was fastened by bolts which 
a particularly slender little girl found it impossible to slide. She 
knew that this silent, motionless portal opened into the street ; 
if the sidelights had not been filled with green paper, she might 
have looked out upon the little brown stoop and the weU-worn 
brick pavement But she had no wish to look out, for this 



28 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

would have interfered with her theory that there was a strange, 
unseen place on the other side — a place which became, to the 
child's imagination, according to its different moods, a region of 
delight or of terror. 

It was in the " office " still that Isabel was sitting on that 
melancholy afternoon of early spring which I have just 
mentioned. At this time she might have had the whole house 
to choose from, and the room she had selected was the most 
joyless chamber it contained. She had never opened the bolted 
door nor removed the green paper (renewed by other hands) 
from its side-lights; she had never assured herself that the 
vulgar street lay beyond it. A crude, cold rain was falling 
heavily; the spring-time presented itself as a questionable 
improvement. Isabel, however, gave as little attention as 
possible to the incongruities of the season ; she kept her eyes 
on her book and tried to fix her mind. It had lately occurred 
to her that her mind was a good deal of a vagabond, and she 
had spent much ingenuity in training it to a military step, and 
teaching it to advance, to halt, to retreat, to perform even more 
complicated manoeuvres, at the word of command. Just now 
she had given it marching orders, and it had been trudging 
over the sandy plains of a history of German Thought. 
Suddenly she became aware of a step very different from her 
own intellectual pace ; she listened a little, and perceived that 
some one was walking about the library, which communicated 
with the office. It struck her first as the step of a person from 
whom she had reason to expect a visit ; then almost immediately 
announced itself as the tread of a woman and a stranger — her 
possible visitor being neither. It had an inquisitive, experi- 
mental quality, which suggested that it would not stop short of 
the threshold of the office ; and, in fact, the doorway of this 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 29 

apartment was presently occupied by a lady who paused there 
and looked very hard at our heroine. She was a plain, elderly 
woman, dressed in a comprehensive waterproof mantle : she had 
a sharp, but not an unpleasant, face. 

" Oh," she said, " is that where you usually sit 1 " And she 
looked about at the heterogeneous chairs and tables. 

" Not when I have visitors," said Isabel, getting up to 
receive the intruder. 

She directed their course back to the library, and the visitor 
continued to look about her. "You seem to have plenty of 
other rooms ; they are in rather better condition. But every- 
thing is immensely worn." 

** Have you come to look at the house 1 " Isabel asked. " The 
seirvant wiU show it to you." 

** Send her away ; I don't want to buy it. She has probably 
gone to look for you, and is wandering about up-stairs ; she 
didn't seem at all intelligent. You had better tell her it is no 
matter." And then, while the girl stood there, hesitating and 
wondering, this unexpected critic said to her abruptly, "I 
suppose you are one of the daughters 1 " 

Isabel thought she had very strange manners. " It depends 
npon whose daughters you mean." 

"The late Mr. Archer's — and my poor sister's." 

"Ah," said Isabel, slowly, "you must be our crazy Aunt 
Lydia ! " 

" Is that what your father told you to call me 1 I am your 
Aunt Lydia, but I am not crazy. And which of the daughters 
are you 1 " 

" I am the youngest of the three, and my name is Isabel." 

"Yes; the others are Lilian and Edith. And are you the 
prettiest 1 " 



80 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" I have not the least idea," said the girl. 

" I think you must be/* And in this way the aunt and the 
niece made friends. The aunt had quarrelled, years before, with 
her brother-in-law, after the death of her sister, taking him to 
task for the manner in which he brought up his three girls. 
Being a high-tempered man, he had requested her to mind her 
own business; and she had taken him at his word. For many 
years she held no communication with him, and after his death 
she addressed not a word to his daughters, who had been bred 
in that disrespectful view of her which we have just seen Isabel 
betray. Mrs. Touchett's behaviour was, as usual, perfectly 
deliberate. She intended to go to America to look after her 
investments (with which her husband, in spite of his great 
financial position, had nothing to do), and would take advantage 
of this opportunity to inquire into the condition of her nieces. 
There was no need of writing, for she should attach no import- 
ance to any account of them that she should elicit by letter ; 
she believed, always, in seeing for one's self. Isabel found, 
however, that she knew a good deal about them, and knew 
about the marriage of the two elder girls ; knew that their poor 
father had left very little money, but that the house in Albany, 
which had passed into his hands, was to be sold for their 
benefit ; knew, finally, that Edmund Ludlow, Lilian's husband, 
had taken upon himself to attend to this matter, in consideration 
of which the young couple, who had come to Albany during 
Mr. Archer's illness, were remaining there for the present, and, 
as well as Isabel herself, occupying the mansion. 

" How much money do you expect to get for it 1 " Mrs. 
Touchett asked of the girl, who had brought her to sit in the 
front-parlour, which she had inspected without enthusiasm. 

" I haven't the least idea," said the girl. 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 31 

" That's the second time yoii have said that to me," her aunt 
rejoined. " And yet you don't look at all stupid." 

" I am not stupid ; but I don't know anything about money." 

" Yes, that's the way you were brought up — as if you were 
to inherit a million. In point of fact, what have you in- 
herited 1 " 

" I really can't tell you. You must ask Edmund and Lilian ; 
they will be back in half-an-hour." 

** In Florence we should call it a very bad house," said Mrs. 
Touchett ; " but here, I suspect, it will bring a high price. It 
ought to make a considerable sum for each of you. In addition 
to that, you must have something else ; it's most extraordinary 
your not knowing. The position is of value, and they will 
probably pull it down and make a row of shopa I wonder 
you don't do that yourself ; you might let the shops to great 
advantage." 

Isabel stared ; the idea of letting shops was new to her. 

" I hope they won't pull it down," she said ; " I am extremely 
fond of it" 

"I don't see what makes you fond of it; your father died 
here." 

" Yes ; but I don't dislike it for that," said the girl, rather 
strangely. "I like places in which things have happened — 
even if they are sad things. A great many people have died 
here ; the place has been full of life." 

" Is that what you call being full of life 1 " 

" I mean full of experience — of people's feelings and sorrows. 
And not of their sorrows only, for I have been very happy here 
as a child." 

'* You should go to Florence if you like houses in which things 
have happened — especially deaths. I live in an old palace in 



82 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

which three people have been murdered ; tliree that were known, 
and I don't know how many more besides." 

*' In an old palace 1 " Isabel repeated. 

" Yes, my dear ; a very different affair from this. This is very 
bourgeois,** 

Isabel felt some emotion, for she had always thought highly 
of her grandmother's house. But the emotion was of a kind 
which led her to say — 

** I should like very much to go to Florence." 

" Well, if you will be very good, and do everything I tell you, 
I will take you there," Mrs. Touchett rejoined. 

The girl's emotion deepened ; she flushed a little, and smiled 
at her aunt in silence. 

" Do everything you tell me 1 I don't think I can promise 
that." 

" No, you don't look like a young lady of that sort. You 
are fond of your own way; but it's not for me to blame 
you." 

" And yet, to go to Florence," the girl exclaimed in a moment, 
** I would promise almost anything ! " 

Edmund and Lilian were slow to return, and Mrs. Touchett 
had an hour's uninterrupted talk with her niece, who found her 
a strange and interesting person. She was as eccentric as Isabel 
had always supposed; and hitherto, whenever the girl had heard 
people described as eccentric, she had thought of them as dis- 
agreeable. To her imagination the term had always suggested 
something grotesque and inharmonious. But her aunt infused a 
new vividness into the idea, and gave her so many fresh impres- 
sions that it seemed to her she had over-estimated the charms 
of conformity. She had never met any one so entertaining as 
this little thin-lipped, bright-eyed, foreign-looking woman, who 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 33 

retrieved an insignificant appearance by a distinguished manner, 
and, sitting there in a well-worn waterproof, talked with striking 
familiarity of European courts. There was nothing flighty about 
Mrs. Touchett, but she was fond of social grandeur, and she 
enjoyed the consciousness of making an impression on a candid 
and susceptible mind. Isabel at first had answered a good many 
questions, and it was from her answers apparently that Mrs. 
Touchett derived a high opinion of her intelligence. But 
after this she had asked a good many, and her aunt's answers, 
whatever they were, struck her as deeply interesting. Mrs. 
Touchett waited for the return of her other niece as long as she 
thought reasonable, but as at six o'clock Mrs. Ludlow had not 
come in, she prepared to take her departure. 

" Your sister must be a great gossip," she said. " Is she 
accustomed to staying out for hours 1 " 

" You have been out almost as long as she," Isabel answered; 
''she can have left the house but a short time before you 



came in." 



Mrs. Touchett looked al the girl without resentment; she 
appeared to enjoy a bold retort, and to be disposed to be gracious 
to her niece. 

** Perhaps she has not had so good an excuse as I. Tell her, 
at any rate, that she must come and see me this evening at that 
horrid hotel. She may bring her husband if she likes, but she 
needn't bring you. I shall see plenty of you later," 



VOL. L 



34 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



IV. 

Mrs. Ludlow was the eldest of the three sisters, and was 
usually thought the most sensible; the classification being in 
general that Lilian was the practical one, Edith the beauty, and 
Isabel the " intellectual " one. Mrs. Keyes, the second sister, 
was the wife of an officer in the United States Engineers, and as 
our history is not further concerned with her, it will be enough 
to say that she was indeed very pretty, and that she formed the 
ornament of those various military stations, chiefly in the un- 
fashionable West, to which, to her deep chagrin, her husband 
was successively relegated. Lilian had married a New York 
lawyer, a young man with a loud voice and an enthusiasm for 
his profession; the match was not brilliant, any more than 
Edith's had been, but Lilian had occasionally been spoken of as 
a young woman who might be thankful to marry at all— she 
was so much plainer than her sisters. She was, however, very 
happy, and now, as the mother of two peremptory little boys, 
and the mistress of a house which presented a narrowness of new 
brown stone to Fifty-third Street, she had quite justified her 
claim to matrimony. She was short and plump, and, as people 
said, had improved since her marriage ; the two things in life 
of which she was most distinctly conscious were her husband's 
force in argument and her sister Isabel's originality. " I have 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. S5 

never felt like Isabel's sister, and I am sure I never shall," she 
Lad said to an intimate friend ; a declaration which made it 
all the more creditable that she had been prolific in sisterly 
offices. 

" I want to see her safely married — that's what I want to see," 
she frequently remarked to her husband. 

** Well, I must say I should have no particular desire to marry 
her," Edmund Ludlow was accustomed to answer, in an extremely 
audible tone. 

" I know you say that for argument ; you always take the 
opposite ground. I don't see what you have against her, except 
that she is so original" 

** Well, I don't like originals ; I like translations," Mr. Ludlow 
had more than once replied. " Isabel is written in a foreign 
tongue. I can't make her out She ought to marry an Armenian, 
or a Portujfuese." 

" That's just what I am afraid she will do ! " cried Lilian, who 
thought Isabel capable of anything. 

She listened with great interest to the girl's account of Mrs. 
Touchett's visit, and in the evening prepared to comply with her 
commands. Of what Isabel said to her no report has remained, 
but her sister's words must have prompted a remark that she 
made to her husband in the conjugal chamber as the two were 
getting ready to go to the hotel 

" I do hope immensely she will do something handsome for 
Isabel ; she has evidently taken a great fancy to her," 

" Wliat is it you wish her to dol " Edmund Ludlow asked; 
" make her a big present 1 " 

" No, indeed ; nothing of the sort. But take an interest in 
her — ^sympatliise with her. She is evidently just the sort of 
person to appreciate Isabel She has lived so much in foreign 

D 2 



36 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



society ; she told Isabel all about it. You know you have 
always thought Isabel rather foreign.*' 

" You want her to give her a little foreign sympathy, eh 1 
Don't you think she gets enough at home 1 " 

"Well, she ought to go abroad," said Mrs. Ludlow. " She's 
just the person to go abroad." 

" And you want the old lady to take her, is that it ] " her 
husband asked. 

" She has oflPered to take her — she is dying to have Isabel go ! 
But what I want her to do when she gets her there is to give her 
all the advantages. I am sure that all we have got to do," said 
Mrs. Ludlow, " is to give her a chance 1 " 
" A chance for what 1 " 
"A chance to develop." 

" Jupiter ! " Edmund Ludlow exclaimed. " I hope she isn't 
going to develop any more I " 

" If I were not sure you only said that for argument, I should 
feel very badly," his wife replied. " But you know you love her." 
" Do you know I love you 1 " the young man said, jocosely, to 
Isabel a little later, while he brushed his hat. 

" I am sure I don't care whether you do or not ! " exclaimed 
the girl, whose voice and smile, however, were sweeter than the 
words she uttered. 

" Oh, she feels so grand since Mrs. Touchett's visit," said 
her sister. 

But Isabel challenged this assertion with a good deal of 
seriousness. 

" You must not say that, Lily. I don't feel grand at alL" 
" I am sure there is no harm," said the conciliatory Lily. 
" Ah, but there is nothing in Mrs. Touchett's visit to make 
one feel grand." 



% 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 37 



" Oh," exclaimed Ludlow, " she is grander than ever ! " 

" Whenever I feel grand," said the girl, " it will be for a better 



reason." 



Whether she felt grand or no, she at any rate felt busy ; busy, 
I mean, with her thoughts. Left to herself for the evening, she 
sat a while under the lamp, with empty hands, heedless of her 
usual avocations. Then she rose and moved about the room, 
and from one room to another, preferring the places where the 
vague lamplight expired. She was restless, and even excited ; 
at moments she trembled a little. She felt that something had 
happened to her of which the importance was out of proportion 
to its appearance ; there had really been a change in her life. 
What it would bring with it was as yet extremely indefinite ; 
but Isabel was in a situation which gave a value to any change. 
She had a desire to leave the past behind her, and, as she said 
to herself, to begin afresh. This desire, indeed, was not a birth 
of the present occasion; it was as familiar as the sound of the 
rain upon the window, and it had led to her beginning afresh a 
great many times. She closed her eyes as she sat in one of the 
dusky comers of the quiet parlour ; but it was not with a desire 
to take a nap. On the contrary, it was because she felt too 
wide-awake, and wished to check the sense of seeing too many 
things at once. Her imagination was by habit ridiculously 
active ; if the door were not opened to it, it jumped out of the 
window. She was not accustomed, indeed, to keep it behind 
bolts ; and, at important moments, when she would have been 
thankful to make use of her judgment alone, she paid the penalty 
of having given undue encouragement to the faculty of seeing 
without judging. At present, with her sense that the note of 
change had been struck, came gradually a host of images of the 
things she was leaving behind her. The years and hours of her 



88 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

life came back to her, and for a long time, in a stillness broken 
only by the ticking of the big bronze clock, she passed them in 
review. It had been a very happy life and she had been a very 
fortunate gui — this was the truth that seemed to emerge most 
vividly. She had had the best of everything, and in a world 
in which the circumstances of so many people made them unen- 
viable, it was an advantage never to have known anything 
particularly disagreeable. It appeared to Isabel that the disa- 
greeable had been even too absent from her knowledge, for she 
had gathered from her acquaintance with literature that it was 
often a source of interest, and even of instruction. Her father 
had kept it away from her — ^her handsome, much-loved father, 
who always had such an aversion to it. It was a great good 
fortune to have been his daughter ; Isabel was even proud of her 
parentage. Since his death she had gathered a vague impression 
that he turned his brighter side to his cliildren, and that he had 
not eluded discomfort quite so much in practice as in aspiration. 
But this only made her tenderness for him greater; it was 
scarcely even painful to have to think that he was too generous, 
too good-natured, too indiflferent to sordid considerations. Many 
persons thought that he carried this indifference too far ; 
especially the large number of those to whom he owed money. 
Of their opinions, Isabel was never very definitely informed ; 
but it may interest the reader to know that, while they admitted 
that the late Mr. Archer had a remarkably handsome head and a 
very taking manner (indeed, as one of them had said, he was 
always taking something), they declared that he had made a 
very poor use of his life. He had squandered a substantial 
fortune, he had been deplorably convivial, he was known to 
have gambled freely. A few very harsh critics went so far as to 
say that he had not even brought up his daughters. They had 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 89 

had no regular education and no permanent home; they had 
been at once spoiled and neglected; ihey had lived with nurse- 
maids and governesses (usually very bad ones), or had been sent 
to strange schools kept by foreigners, from which, at the end of 
a month, they had been removed in tears. This view of the 
matter would have excited Isabel's indignation, for to her own 
sense her opportunities had been abundant. Even when her 
father had left his daughters for three months at Neufchdtel 
with a French bonne, who eloped with a Eussian nobleman, 
staying at the same hotel — even in this irregular situation (an 
incident of the girl's eleventh year) she had been neither fright- 
ened nor asliamed, but had thought it a picturesque episode in a 
liberal education. Her father had a large way of looking at life, 
of which his restlesuness and even his occasional iucoherency of 
conduct had been only a proof. He wished his daughters, even 
as child reu, to see as much of the world as possible ; and it was 
for this purpose that, betore Isabel was fourteen, he had trans- 
ported them three times across the Atlantic, giving them on each 
occasion, however, but a few months' view of foreign lands ; a 
course which had whetted our heroine's curiosity without 
enabliug her to satisfy it. She ought to have been a partisan 
of her i'ather, for among his three daughters she was quite his 
favourite, and in his last days his general willingness to take 
leave of a world in which the difficulty of doing as one liked 
appeared to increase as one grew older was sensibly modified by 
the pain of separation from his clever, his superior, his remark- 
able girl. Later, when the journeys to Europe ceased, he still 
had shown his children all sorts of indulgence, and if he had 
been troubled about money-matters, nothing ever disturbed their 
irreflective consciousness of many possessions. Isabel, though 
she danced very well, had not the recollection of having been in 



40 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

New York a successful member of the choregraphic circle ; her 
sister Edith was, as every one said, so very much more popular. 
Edith was so striking an example of success that Isabel could 
have no illusions as to what constituted this advantage, or as to 
the moderate character of her own triumphs. Nineteen persons 
out of twenty (including the younger sister herself) pronounced 
Edith infinitely the prettier of the two ; but the twentieth, 
besides reversing this judgment, had the entertainment of thinking 
all the others a parcel of fools. Isabel had in the depths of 
her nature an even more unquenchable desire to please than 
Edith ; but the depths of this young lady's nature were a very 
out-of-the-way place, between which and the surface communi- 
cation was interrupted by a dozen capricious forces. She saw 
the young men who came in large numbers to see her sister ; 
but as a general thing they were afraid of her; they had a 
belief that some special preparation was required for talking 
with her. Her reputation of reading a great deal hung about 
her like the cloudy envelope of a goddess in an epic ; it was 
supposed to engender difficult questions, and to keep the conver- 
sation at a low temperature. The poor girl liked to be thought 
clever, but she hated to be thought bookish ; she used to read in 
secret, and, though her memory was excellent, to abstain from 
quotation. She had a great desire for knowledge, but she really 
preferred almost any source of information to the printed page ; 
she had an immense curiosity about life, and was constantly 
staring and wondering. She carried within herself a great fund 
of life, and her deepest enjoyment was to feel the continuity 
between the movements of her own heart and the agitations of 
the world. For this reason she was fond of seeing great crowds 
and large stretches of country, of reading about revolutions and 
wars, of looking at historical pictures — a class of eflForts to which 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 41 

she had often gone so far as to forgive much bad painting for 
the sake of the subject While the Civil War went on, she was 
still a very young girl ; but she passed months of this long 
period in a state of almost passionate excitement, in which she 
felt herself at times (to her extreme confusion) stirred almost 
indiscriminately by the valour of either army. Of course 
the circumspection of the local youth had never gone the 
length of making her a social proscript; for the proportion of 
those whose hearts, as they approached her, beat only ju»t fast 
enough to make it a sensible pleasure, was sufficient to redeem 
her maidenly career from failure. She had had everything that 
a girl could have : kindness, admiration, flattery, bouquets, the 
sense of exclusion from none of the privileges of the world she 
lived in, abundant opportunity for dancing, the latest publica- 
tions, plenty of new dresses, the London Sjyectator, and a glimpse 
of contemporary aesthetics. 

These things now, as memory played over them, resolved 
themselves into a multitude of scenes and figures. Forgotten 
things came back to her ; many others, which she had lately 
thought of great moment, dropped out of sight. The result was 
kaleidoscopic ; but the movement of the instrument was checked 
at last by the servant's coming in with the name of a gentleman. 
The name of the gentleman was Caspar Goodwood ; he was a 
straight young man from Boston, who had known Miss Archer for 
the last twelvemonth, and who, thinking her the most beautiful 
young woman of her time, had pronounced the time, according to 
the rule T have h in ted at, a foolish period of history. He sometimes 
wrote to Isabel, and he had lately written to her from New York. 
She had thought it very possible he would come in — had, indeed, 
all the rainy day been vaguely expecting him. Nevertheless, now 
that she learned he was there, she felt no eagerness to receive 



42 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

liim. He was the finest young man she had ever seen, was, 
indeed, quite a magnificent young man ; he filled her with a 
certain feeling of respect which she had never entertained for 
any one else. He was supposed by the world in general to wish 
to marry her ; but this of course was between themselves. It 
at least may be affirmed that he had travelled from New York 
to Albany expressly to see her; having learned in the former 
city, where he was spending a few days and where he had hoped 
to find her, that she was still at the capital Isabel delayed for 
some minutes to go to him ; she moved about the room with a 
certain feeling of embarrassment. But at last she presented 
herself, and found him standing near the lamp. He was tall, 
strong, and somewhat stiff ; he was also lean and brown. He 
was not especially good-looking, but his physiognomy had an air 
of requesting your attention, which it rewarded or not, according 
to the charm you found in a blue eye of remarkable fixedness 
and a jaw of the somewhat angular mould,, which is supposed 
to bespeak resolution. Isabel said to herself that it bespoke 
resolution to-night; but, nevertheless, an hour later, Caspar 
Goodwood, who had arrived hopeful as well as resolute, took his 
way back to his lodging with the feeling of a man defeated. 
He was not, however, a man to be discouraged by a defeat. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 43 



V. 

Ealph Touchbtt was a philosopher, but nevertheless he 
knocked at his mother's door (at a quarter to seven) with a good 
deal of eagerness. Even philosophers have their preferences, 
and it must be admitted that of his progenitors his father 
ministered most to his sense of the sweetness of filial depend- 
ence.' His father, as he had often said to himself, was the more 
motherly; his mother, on the other hand, was paternal, and 
even, according to the slang of the day, gubernatoriaL She 
was nevertheless very fond of her only child, and had always 
insisted on his spending three months of the year with her. 
Ealph rendered perfect justice to her affection, and knew that in 
her thoughts his turn always came after the care of her house 
and her conservatory (she was extremely fond of flowers). He 
found her completely dressed for dinner, but she embraced her 
boy with her gloved hands, and made him sit on the sofa beside 
her. She inquired scrupulously about her husband's health and 
about the young man's own, and receiving no very brilliant 
account of either, she remarked that she was more than ever 
convinced of her wisdom in not exposing herself to the English 
climate. In this case she also might have broken down. Ealph 
smiled at the idea of his mother breaking down, but made no 
point of reminding her that his own enfeebled condition was 



44 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

not the result of the English climate, from which he absented 
himself for a considerable part of each year. 

He had been a very small boy when his father, Daniel Tracy 
Touchett, who was a native of Rutland, in the State of Vermont, 
came to England as subordinate partner in a banking-house, in 
which some ten years later he acquired a preponderant interest. 
Daniel Touchett saw before him a life-long residence in his 
adopted country, of which, from the first, he took a simple, 
cheerful, and eminently practical view. But, as he said to him- 
self, he had no intention of turning Englishman, nor had he any 
desire to convert his only son to the same sturdy faith. It had 
been for himself so very soluble a problem to live in England, 
and yet not be of it, that it seemed to him equally simple that 
after his death his lawful heir should carry on the bank in a 
pure American spirit. He took pains to cultivate this spirit, 
however, by sending the boy home for .his education. Ralph 
spent several terms in an American school, and took a degree 
at an American college, after which, as he struck his father on 
his return as even redundantly national, he was placed for 
some three years in residence at Oxford. Oxford swallowed 
up Harvard, and Ralph became at last English enough. His 
outward conformity to the manners that surrounded him was 
none the less the mask of a mind that greatly enjoyed its 
independence, on which nothing long imposed itself, and which, 
naturally inclined to jocosity and irony, indulged in a boundless 
liberty of appreciation. He began with being a young man of 
promise; at Oxford he distinguished himself, to his father's 
ineffable satisfaction, and the people about him said it was a 
thousand pities so clever a fellow should be shut out from a 
career. He might have had a career by returning to his own 
country (though this point is shrouded in uncertainty), and even 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 45 

if Mr. Touchett had been willing to part with him (which was 

not the case), it would have gone hard with him to put the ocean 

(which he detested) permanently between himself and the old 

man whom he regarded as his best friend. Ralph was not only 

fond of his father, but he admired him — he enjoyed the opportunity 

of observing him. Daniel Touchett to his perception was a man 

of genius, and though he himself had no great fancy for the 

banking business, he made a point of learning enough of it to 

measure the great figure his father had played. It was not this, 

however, he mainly relished, it was the old man's effective 

simplicity. Daniel Touchett had been neither at Harvard nor 

at Oxford, and it was his own fault if he had put into his son's 

hands the key to modem criticism. Ralph, whose head was 

full of ideas which his father had never guessed, had a high 

esteem for the latter's originality. Americans, rightly or wrongly, 

are commended for the ease with which they adopt themselves 

to foreign conditions ; but Mr. Touchett had given evidence of 

this talent only up to a certain point. He had made himself 

thoroughly comfortable in England, but he had never attempted 

to pitch his thoughts in the English key. He had retained 

many characteristics of Rutland, Vermont ; his tone, as his son 

always noted with pleasure, was that of the more luxuriant parts 

of New England. At the end of his life, especially, he was a 

gentle, refined, fastidious old man, who combined consummate 

shrewdness with a sort of fraternising good -humour, and whose 

feeling about his own position in the world was quite of the 

democratic sort. It was perhaps his want of imagination and of 

what is called the historic consciousness; but to many of the 

impressions usually made by English life upon the cultivated 

stranger his sense was completely closed. There were certain 

differences he never perceived, certain habits he never formed, 



48 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

seemed to him that the delights of observation had never been 
suspected. He was far from the time when he had found it hard 
that he should be obliged to give up the idea of distinguishing 
himself ; an idea none the less importunate for being vague, and 
none the less delightful for having to struggle with a good deal 
of native indifference. His friends at present found him 
much more cheerful, and attributed it to a theory, over which 
they shook their heads knowingly, that he would recover 
his health. The truth was that he had simply accepted the 
situation. 

It was very probable this sweet-tasting property of observation 
to which I allude (for he found himself in these last years much 
more inclined to notice the pleasant things of the world than the 
others) that was mainly concerned in Kalph's quickly-stirred 
interest in the arrival of a young lady who was evidently not 
insipid. If he were observantly disposed, something told him, 
here was occupation enough for a succession of days. It may be 
added, somewhat crudely, that the liberty of falling in love had 
a place in Ealph Touchett's programme. This was of course a 
liberty to be very temperately used ; for though the safest form 
of any sentiment is that which is conditioned upon silence, it is 
not always the most comfortable, and Ralph had forbidden him- 
self the arts of demonstration. But conscious observation of a 
lovely woman had struck him as the finest entertainment that 
the world now had to offer him, and if the interest should 
become poignant, he flattered himself that he could carry it off 
quietly, as he had carried other discomforts. He speedily 
acquired a conviction, however, that he was not destined to fall 
in love with his cousin. 

" And now tell me about the young lady," he said to his 
mother. " What do you mean to do with her ] *' 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 49 

• 

Mrs. Toachett hesitated a little. '' I mean to ask your father 
to invite her to stay three or four weeks at Gardencourt" 

''You needn't stand on any such ceremony as that,** said 
Kalph. " My father will ask her as a matter of course. ** 

" I don't know about that. She is my niece ; she is not his." 

'' Good Lord, dear mother ; what a sense of property ! That's 
all the more reason for his asking her. But after that — I mean 
after three months (for it's absurd asking the poor girl to remain 
but for three or four paltry weeks) — what do you mean to do 
with her ] " 

'' I mean to take her to Paris, to get her some clothes." 

" Ah yes, that's of course. But independently of thati " 

" I shall invite her to spend the autumn with me in Florence." 

" You don't rise above detail, dear mother," said Ralph. " I 
should like to know what you mean to do with her in a general 
way." 

" My duty ! " Mrs. Touchett declared. ** I suppose you pity 
her very much," she added. 

" No, I don't think I pity her. She doesn't strike me as a 
girl that suggests compassion. I think I envy her. Before being 
sure, however, give me a hint of what your duty will direct you 
to do." 

" It will direct mo to show her four European countries — I 
shall leave her the choice of two of them — and to give her the 
opportunity of perfecting herself in French, which she already 
knows very well." 

Ealph frowned a little. "That sounds rather dry — even 
giving her the choice of two of the countries." 

" If it's dry," said his mother with a laugh, " you can leave 
Isabel alone to water it ! She is as good as a summer rain, any day." 

" Do you mean that she is a gifted being ? " 

VOL. I. B 



50 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" I don't know whether she is a gifted being, but she is a clever 
girl, with a strong will and a high temper. She has no idea of 
being bored." ' 

"I can imagine that," said Ealph; and then he added, 
abruptly, " How do you two get on ? " 

" Do you mean by that that I am a bore 1 I don't think 
Isabel finds me one. Some girls might, I know ; but this one is 
too clever for that. I think I amuse her a good deal. "We get 
on very well, because I understand her ; I know the sort of girl 
she is. She is very frank, and I am very frank ; we know just 
what to expect of each other." 

"Ah, dear mother," Ralph exclaimed, "one always knows 
what to expect of you ! You have never surprised me but once, 
and that is to-day — in presenting me with a pretty cousin whose 
existence I had never suspected." 

" Do you think her very pretty 1 " 

" Very pretty indeed ; but I don't insist upon that. It's her 
general air of being some one in particular that strikes me. Who 
is this rare creature, and what is she] Where did you find 
her, and how did you make her acquaintance 1 " 

" I found her in an old house at Albany, sitting in a dreary 
room on a rainy day, reading a heavy book, and boring herself to 
death. She didn't know she was bored, but when I told her, 
she seemed very grateful for the hint. You may say I shouldn't 
have told her — I should have let her alone. There is a good 
deal in that ; but I acted conscientiously ; I thought she was 
meant for something better. It occurred to me that it would be 
a kindness to take her about and introduce her to the world. 
She thinks she knows a great deal of it — like most American 
girls; but like most American girls she is very much mistaken. 
If you want to know, I thought she would do me credit. I lika 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 51 

to be well thought of, and for a woman of my age there is no 
more becoming ornament than an attractive niece. You know 
I had seen nothing of my sister's children for years ; I disap- 
proved entirely of the father. But I always meant to do some- 
thing for them when he should have gone to his reward. I 
ascertained where they were to be found, and, without any 
preliminaries, went and introduced myself. There are two other 
sisters, both of whom are married; but I saw only the elder, 
who has, by the way, a very uncivil husband. The wife, whose 
name is Lily, jumped at the idea of my taking an interest 
in Isabel; she said it was just what her sister needed — that 
some one should take an interest in her. She spoke of her as 
you might speak of some young person of genius, in want of 
encouragement and patronage. It may be that Isabel is a genius ; 
but in that case I have not yet learned her special Hue. Mrs. 
Ludlow was especially keen about my taking her to Europe ; they 
all regard Europe over there as a sort of land of emigration, a 
refuge for their superfluous population. Isabel herself seemed 
very glad to come, and the thing was easily arranged. There 
was a little difficulty about the money-question, as she seemed 
averse to being under pecuniary obligations. But she has a 
small income, and she supposes herself to be travelling at her 
own expense." 

Ealph had listened attentively to this judicious account of his 
pretty cousin, by which his interest in her was not impaired. 
" Ah, if she is a genius," he said, " we must find out her special 
line. Is it, by chance, for flirting 1 ** 

" I don't think so. Tou may suspect that at first, but you 
will be wrong." 

"Warburton is wrong, then!" Ealph Touchett exclaimed. 
*^ He flatters himself he has made that discovery." 

E 2 



62 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

His mother shook her head. " Lord Warburton won't under- 
stand her ; he needn't try." 

" He is very intelligent," said Ealph ; " but it's right he should 
be puzzled once in a while." 

" Isabel will enjoy puzzling a lord," Mrs. Touchett remarked. 

Her son frowned a little. " What does she know about 
lords 1 " 

" Nothing at all ; that will puzzle him all the more." 

Ealph greeted these words with a laugh, and looked out of the 
window a little. Then — " Are you not going down to see my 
father ? " he asked. 

" At a quarter to eight," said Mrs. Touchett. 

Her son looked at his watch. " You have another quarter of 
an hour, then ; tell me some more about Isabel." 

But Mrs. Touchett declined his invitation, declaring that he 
must find out for himself. 

" Well," said Ealph, " she will certainly do you credit. But 
won't she also give you trouble ? " 

*' I hope not ; but if she does, I shall not shrink from it. I 
never do that." 

" She strikes me as very natural," said Ealph. 
" Natural people are not the most trouble." 
" No," said Ealph ; " you yourself ai'e a proof of that. You 
are extremely natural, and I am sure you have never troubled 
any one. But tell me this ; it just occurs to me. Is Isabel 
capable of making herself disagreeable 1 " 

" Ah," cried his mother, " you ask too many questions ! Find 
that out for yourself." 

His questions, however, were not exhausted. ** All this time," 
he said, " you have not told me what you intend to do with 
her." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 63 

" Do with her 1 You talk as if she were a yard of calico. I 
shall do absolutely nothing with her, and she herself will do 
everything that she chooses. She gave me notice of that.'' 

''What you meant then, in your telegram, was that her 
character was independent." 

"I never know what I mean by my telegrams — especially 
those I send from America. Clearness is too expensive. Come 
down to your father." 

" It is not yet a quarter to eight," said Ralph. 

" I must allow for his impatience," Mrs. Touchett answered. 

Kalph knew what to think of his father's impatience ; but 
making no rejoinder, he offered his mother his arm. This put 
it into his power, as they descended together, to stop her a 
moment on the middle landing of the staircase — the broad, low, 
wide-armed staircase of time-stained oak which was one of the 
most striking ornaments of Gardencourt. 

" You have no plan of marrying her ] " he said, smiling. 

" Marry her 1 I should be sorry to play her such a trick ! 
But apart from that, she is perfectly able to marry herself ; she 
has every facility." 

" Do you mean to say she has a husband picked out 1 " 

" I don't know about a husband, but there is a young man in 
Boston " 

Ealph went on; he had no desire to hear about the young 
man in Boston. " As my father says," he exclaimed, " they are 

m 

always engaged ! " 

His mother had told him that he must extract his information 
about his cousin from the girl herself, and it soon became evident 
to him that he should not .want for opportunity. He had, for 
instance, a good deal of talk with her that same evening, when 
the two had been left alone together in the drawing-room. Lord 



64 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

Warburton, who had ridden over from his own house, some ten 
miles distant, remounted and took his departure before dinner ; 
and an hour after this meal was concluded, Mr. and Mrs. 
Touchett, who appeared to have exhausted each other's convers- 
ation, withdrew, under the valid pretext of fatigue, to their 
respective apartments. The young man spent an hour with 
his cousin ; though she had been travelling half the day she 
appeared to have no sense of weariness. She was really tired ; 
she knew it, and knew that she should pay for it on the morrow ; 
but it was her habit at this period to carry fatigue to the furthest 
point, and confess to it only when dissimulation had become 
impossible. For the present it was perfectly possible ; she was 
interested and excited. She asked Ealph to show her the 
pictures ; there were a great many of them in the house, most of 
them of his own choosing. The best of them were arranged in 
an oaken gaUery of charming proportions, which had a sitting- 
room at either end of it, and which in the evening was usually 
lighted. The light was insufficient to show the pictures to 
advantage, and the visit might have been deferred till the 
morrow. This suggestion Ealph had ventured to make ; but 
Isabel looked disappointed — smiling still, however — and said, 
" If you please, I should like to see them just a little." She 
was eager, she knew that she was eager and that she seemed so ; 
but she could not help it. " She doesn't take suggestions," Ealph 
said to himself ; but he said it without irritation ; her eagerness 
amused and even pleased him. The lamps were on brackets, at 
intervals, and if the light was imperfect it was genial. It fell 
upon the vague squares of rich colour and on the faded gilding 
of heavy frames ; it made a shining on the polished floor of the 
gallery. Ealph took a candlestick and moved about, pointing 
put the things he liked ; Isabel, bending toward one picture after 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 65 



another, indulged in little exclamations and munnurs. She was 
evidently a judge ; she had a natural taste ; he was struck with 
that. She took a candlestick herself and held it slowly here 
and there; she lifted it high, and as she did so, he found 
himself pausing in the middle of the gallery and bending his 
eyes much less upon the pictures than on her figure. He lost 
nothing, in truth, by these wandering glances ; for she was better 
worth looking at than most works of art. She was thin, and 
light, and middling tall; when people had wished to distin- 
guish her from the other two Miss Archers, they always called 
her the thin one. Her hair, which was dark even to blackness, 
had been an object of envy to many women ; her light grey eye, 
a little too keen perhaps in her graver moments, had an enchant- 
ing softness when she smiled. They walked slowly up one side 
of the gallery and down the other, and then she said — 

" Well, now I know more than I did when I began ! " 

**You apparently have a great passion for knowledge," her 
cousin answered, laughing. 

" I think I have ; most girls seem to me so ignorant," said 
Isabel. 

" You strike me as different from most girls." 

" Ah, some girls are so nice," murmured Isabel, who preferred 
not to talk about herself. Then, in a moment, to change the 
subject, she went on, " Please tell me — isn't there a ghost i " 

" A ghost 1 " 

" A spectre, a phantom ; we call them ghosts in America." 

" So we do here, when we see them." 

" You do see them, then ? You ought to, in this romantic 
old house." 

" It*s not a romantic house," said Ealph. " You will be 
disappointed if you count on that. It's dismally prosaic ; there 



66 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

is no romance here but what you may have brought with 
you." 

" I have brought a great deal ; but it seems to me I have 
brought it to the right place." 

" To keep it out of harm, certainly ; nothing will ever happen 
to it here, between my father and me." 

Isabel looked at him a moment. 

" Is there never any one here but your father and you 1 " 

" My mother, of course." 

** Oh, I know your mother ; she is not romantic. Haven't 
you other people 1 " 

« Very few." 

" I am sorry for that ; I like so much to see people." 

"Oh, we will invite all the county to amuse you," said 
Kalph. 

" Now you are making fun of me," the girl answered, rather 
gravely. " Who was the gentleman that was on the lawn when 
I arrived 1 " 

"A county neighbour ; he doesn't come very often." 

" I am sorry for that ; I liked him," said Isabel. 

" Why, it seemed to me that you barely spoke to him," Ealph 
objected. 

" Never mind, I like him all the same. I h'ke your father, 
too, immensely." 

'* You can't do better than that ; he is a dear old man." 

" I am so sorry he is ill," said Isabel 

" You must help me to nurse him ; you ought to be a good 



nurse." 



" I don't think I am ; I have been told I am not ; I am said 
to be too theoretic. But you haven't told me about the ghost," 
she added. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 67 

Ealph, however, gave no heed to this observation. 

"You like my father, and you like Lord Warburton. I 
infer also that you like my mother.'' 

" I like your mother very much, because — because ** 

And Isabel found herself attempting to assign a reason for her 
affection for Mrs. Touchett. 

" Ah, we never know why ! " said her companion, laughing. 

" I always know why," the girl answered. " It's because she 
doesn't expect one to like her ; she doesn't care whether one 
does or not." 

" So you adore her, out of perversity 1 Well, I take greatly 
after my mother," said Ralph. 

" I don't believe you do at all. You wish people to like you, 
and you try to make them do it." 

" Good heavens, how you see through one ! " cried Ealph, 
with a dismay that was not altogether jocular. 

"But I like you all the same," his cousin went on. 
"The way to clinch the matter will be to show me the 
ghost." 

Ralph shook his head sadly. " I might show it to you, but 
you would never see it. The privilege isn't given to every one ; 
it's not enviable. It has never been seen by a young, happy, 
innocent person like you. You must have suffered first, have 
suffered greatly, have gained some miserable knowledge. In 
that way your eyes are opened to it. I saw it long ago," said 
Ralph, smiling. 

" I told you just now I was very fond of knowledge," the 
girl answered. 

" Yes, of happy knowledge — of pleasant knowledge. But 
you haven't suffered, and you are not made to suffer. I hope 
you will never see the ghost ! " 



58 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

Isabel had listened to him attentively, with a smile on her 
lips, but with a certain gravity in her eyes. Charming as he 
found her, she had struck him as rather presumptuous — indeed 
it was a part of her charm; and he wondered what she would 
say. 

" I am not afraid," she said ; which seemed quite presumptuous 
enough. 

" You are not afraid of suffering ? " 

** Yes, I am afraid of suffering. But I am not afraid of ghosts. 
And I think people suffer too easily," she added. 

" I don't believe you do," said Ealph, looking at her with his 
hands in his pockets. 

"I don't think that's a fault," she answered. "It is not 
absolutely necessary to suffer ; we were not made for that." 

" You were not, certainly." 

" I am not speaking of myself." And she turned away a 
little. 

" No, it isn't a fault," said her cousin. " It's a merit to be 
strong." 

" Only, if you don't suffer, they call you hard," Isabel re- 
marked. They passed out of the smaller drawing-room, into 
which they had returned from the gallery, and paused in the 
hall, at the foot of the staircase. Here Ealph presented his 
companion with her bed-room candle, which he had taken from 
a niche. " Never mind what they call you," he said. " When 
you do suffer, they call you an idiot. The great point is to be 
as happy as possible." 

She looked at him a little ; she had taken her 'candle, and 
placed her foot on the oaken stair. ** Well," she said, " that's 
what I came to Europe for, to be as happy as possible. Good 
night." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. SU 

" Good night ! I wish you all bucccss, and shall be very glad 
to contribute to it ! " 

She turned away, and he watched her, as she slowly ascended. 
Then, with his hands always in his pockets, he went back to the 
empty drawing-room. 



60 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



VI. 

Isabel Archer was a young person of many theories ; her 
imagination was remarkably active. It had been her fortune to 
possess a finer mind than most of the persons among whom her 
lot was cast ; to have a larger perception of surrounding facts, 
and to care for knowledge that was tinged with the unfamiliar. 
It is true that among her contemporaries she passed for a young 
woman of extraordinary profundity ; for these excellent people 
never withheld their admiration from a reach of intellect of 
which they themselves were not conscious, and spoke of Isabel 
as a prodigy of learning, a young lady reputed to have read the 
classic authors — in translations. Her paternal aunt, Mrs. Varian, 
once spread the rumour that Isabel was writing a book — Mrs. 
Varian having a reverence for books — and averred that Isabel 
would distinguish herself in print. Mrs. Varian thought highly 
of literature, for which she entertained that esteem that is con- 
nected with a sense of privation. Her own large house, remark- 
able for its assortment of mosaic tables and decorated ceilings, 
was unfurnished with a library, and in the way of printed 
volumes contained nothing but half-a-dozen novels in paper, on 
a shelf in the apartment of one of the Miss Varians. Practically, 
Mrs. Variants acquaintance with literature was confined to the 
New Yoi'k Interviewer ; as she veryjustly said, after you had read 
the Interviewer, you had no time for anything else. Her tendency, 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 61 

however, was rather to keep the Interviewer out of the way of 
her daughters ; she was determined to bring them up seriously, 
and they read nothing at alL Her impression with regard to 
Isabel's labours was quite illusory; the girl never attempted 
to write a book, and had no desire to be an authoress. She had 
no talent for expression, and had none of the consciousness of 
genius ; she only had a general idea that people were right when 
they treated her as if she were rather superior. Whether or no 
she were superior, people were right in admiring her if they 
thought her so ; for it seemed to her often that her mind moved 
more quickly than theirs, and this encouraged an impatience that 
might easily be confounded with superiority. It may be affirmed 
without delay that Isabel was probably very liable to the sin of 
self-esteem ; she often surveyed with complacency the field of 
her own nature; she was in the habit of taking for granted, 
on scanty evidence, that she was right ; impulsively, she often 
admired herself. Meanwhile her errors and delusions were fre- 
quently such as a biographer interested in preserving the dignity 
of his heroine must shrink from specifying. Her thoughts 
were a tangle of vague outlines, which had never been cor- 
rected by the judgment of people who seemed to her to speak 
with authority. In matters of opinion she had had her own 
way, and it had led her into a thousand ridiculous zigzags. 
Every now and then she found out she was wrong, and then 
she treated herself to a week of passionate humility. After 
this she held her head higher than ever again ; for it was of no 
use, she had an unquenchable desire to think well of heraelf. 
She had a theory that it was only on this condition that life was 
worth living ; that one should be one of the best, should be con- 
scious of a line organisation (she could not help knowing her 
organisation was fine), should move in a realm of light, of natural 



62 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

wisdom, of happy impulse, of inspiration gracefully chronic. It 
was almost as unnecessary to cultiv&te douht of oneself as to 
cultivate douht of one's best friend; one should try to be one's 
own best friend, and to give oneself, in this manner, distinguished 
company. The girl had a certain nobleness of imagination which 
rendered her a good many services and played her a great manj'' 
tricks. She spent half her time in thinking of beauty, and 
bravery, and magnanimity; she had a fixed determination to 
regard the world as a place of brightness, of free expansion, of 
irresistible action; she thought it would be detestable to be 
afraid or ashamed. She had an infinite hope that she should 
never do anything wrong. She had resented so strongly, after 
discovering them, her mere errors of feeling (the discovery always 
made her tremble, as if she had escaped from a trap which might 
have caught her and smothered her), that the chance of inflict- 
ing a sensible injury upon another person, presented only as a 
contingency, caused her at moments to hold her breath. That 
always seemed to her the worst thing that could happen to one. 
On the whole, reflectively, she was in no uncertainty about the 
things that were wrong. She had no taste for thinking of them, 
but whenever she looked at them fixedly she recognised them. 
It was wrong to be mean, to be jealous, to be false, to be cruel ; 
she had seen very little of the evil of the world, but she had 
seen women who lied and who tried to hurt each other. Seeing 
such things had quickened her high spirit ; it seemed right to 
scorn them. Of course the danger of a high spirit is the danger 
of inconsistency — the danger of keeping up the flag after the 
place has surrendered ; a sort of behaviour so anomalous as to be 
almost a dishonour to the flag. But Isabel, who knew little of 
the sorts of artillery to which young ladies are exposed, flattered 
herself that such contradictions would never be observed in her 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 63 

own conduct Her life should always be in harmony with the 
most pleasing impression she should produce ; she would be what 
she appeared, and she would appear what she was. Sometimes 
she went so far as to wish that she should find herself some 
day in a difficult position, so that she might have the pleasure 
of being as heroic as the occasion demanded. Altogether, with 
her meagre knowledge, her inflated ideals, her confidence at once 
innocent and dogmatic, her temper at once exacting and indulg- 
ent, her mixture of curiosity and fastidiousness, of vivacity and 
indifference, her desire to look very well and to be if possible 
even better ; her determination to see, to try, to know ; her 
combination of the delicate, desultory, flame-like spirit and the 
eager and personal young girl ; she would be an easy victim of 
scientific criticism, if she were not intended to awaken on the 
reader's part an impulse more tender and more purely expectant. 
It was one of her theories that Isabel Archer was very fortun- 
ate in being independent, and that she ought to make some very 
enlightened use of her independence. She never called it lone- 
liness ; she thought that weak ; and besides, her sister Lily con- 
stantly urged her to come and stay with her. She had a friend 
whose acquaintance she had made shortly before her father's 
death, who offered so laudable an example of useful activity that 
Isabel always thought of her as a model Henrietta Stackpole 
had the advantage of a remarkable talent ; she was thoroughly 
launched in journalism, and her letters to the Interviewer y from 
Washington, Newport, the White Mountains, and other plaices, 
were universally admired. Isabel did not accept them unrestrict- 
edly, but she esteemed the courage, energy, and good-humour of 
her friend, who, without parents and without property, had 
adopted three of the children of an infirm and widowed sister, 
and was paying their school-bills out of the proceeds of her 



64 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

literary labour. Henrietta was a great radical, and had clear-cut 
views on most subjects; her cherished desire had long been to 
come to Europe and write a series of letters to the Interviewer 
from the radical point of view — an enterprise the less difficult as 
she knew perfectly in advance what her opinions would be, and 
to how many objections most European institutions lay open. 
When she heard that Isabel was coming, she wished to start at 
once; thinking, naturally, that it would be delightful the two 
should travel together. She had been obliged, however, to post- 
pone this enterprise. She thought Isabel a glorious creature, and 
had spoken of her, covertly, in some of her letters, though she 
never mentioned the fact to her friend, who would not have 
taken pleasure in it and was not a regular reader of the Inter- 
viewer, Henrietta, for Isabel, was chiefly a proof that a woman 
might suffice to herself and be happy. Her resources were of 
the obvious kind; but even if one had not the journalistic 
talent and a genius for guessing, as Heniietta said, what the 
public was going to want, one was not therefore to conclude that 
one had no vocation, no beneficent aptitude of any sort, and 
resign oneself to being trivial and superficial Isabel was reso- 
lutely determined not to be superficial. K one should wait 
expectantly and trustfully, one would find some happy work to 
one's hand. Of course, among her theories, this young lady was 
not without a collection of opinions on the question of marriage. 
The first on the list was a conviction that it was very vulgar to 
think too much about it. From lapsing into a state of eagerness 
on this point she earnestly prayed that she might be delivered ; 
she held that a woman ought to be able to make up her life in 
singleness, and that it was perfectly possible to be happy with- 
out the society of a more or less coarse-minded person of another 
sex. The girl's prayer was very sufficiently answered ; some- 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 66 

thing pure and proud that there was in her — something cold and 
stifif, an' unappreciated suitor with a taste for analysis might have 
called it — ^had hitherto kept her from any great vanity of conjee 
ture on the subject of possible husbands. Few of the men she 
saw seemed worth an expenditure of imagination, and it made 
her smile to think that one of them should present himself as au 
incentive to hope and a reward of patience. Deep in her soul — 
it was the deepest thing there — lay a belief that if a certain 
light should dawn, she could give herself completely ; but this 
image, on the whoJe, was too formidable to be attractive. Isabel's 
thoughts hovered about it, but they seldom rested on it long ; 
after a little it ended by frightening her. It often seemed to 
her that she thought too much about herself ; you could have 
made her blush, any day in the year, by telling her that she was 
selfish. She was always planning out her own development, 
desiring her own perfection, observing her own progress. Her 
nature had for her own imagination a certain garden-like quality, 
a suggestion of perfume and murmuring boughs, of shady bowers 
and lengthening vistas, which made her feel that introspection 
was, after all, an exercise in the open air, and that a visit to the 
recesses of one's mind was harmless when one returned from it 
with a lapful of roses. But she was often reminded that there 
were other gardens in the world than those of her virginal soul, 
and that there were, moreover, a great many places that were not 
gardens at all— only dusky, pestiferous tracts, planted thick with 
ugliness and misery. In the current of that easy eagerness on 
which she had lately been floating, which had conveyed her to 
this beautiful old England and might carry her much further 
still, she often checked herself with the thought of the thousands 
of people who were less happy than herself — a thought which 
for the moment made her absorbing happiness appear to her a 

VOL. I. p 



M THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

kind of immodesty. What should one do with the misery of 
the world in a scheme of the agreeable for oneself ? It must be 
confessed that this question never held her long. She was too 
young, too impatient to live, too unacquainted with pain. She 
always returned to her theory that a young woman whom after 
all every one thought clever, should begin by getting a general 
impression of life. This was necessary to prevent mistakes, and 
after it should be secured she might make the unfortunate con- 
dition of others an object of special attention. 

England was a revelation to her, and she found herself as 
entertained as a child at a pantomime. In her infantine excur- 
sions to Europe she had seen only the Continent, and seen it 
from the nursery window ; Paris, not London, was her father's 
Mecca. The impressions of that time, moreover, had become 
faint and remote, and the old-world quality in everything that 
she now saw had all the charm of strangeness. Her uncle's 
house seemed a picture made real ; no refinement of the agree- 
able was lost upon Isabel ; the rich perfection of Gardencourt 
at once revealed a world and gratified a need. The large, low 
rooms, with brown ceilings and dusky comers, the deep em- 
brasures and curious casements, the quiet light on dark, polished 
panels, the deep greenness outside, that seemed always peep- 
ing in, the sense of well-ordered privacy, in the centre of a 
" property " — a place where sounds were felicitously accidental, 
where the tread was muffled by the earth itself, and in the 
thick mild air all shrillness dropped out of conversation — these 
things were much to the taste of our young lady, whose taste 
played a considerable part in her emotions. She formed a fast 
friendship with her uncle, and often sat by his chair when he 
had had it moved out to the lawn. He passed hours in the 
open air, sitting placidly with folded hands, like a good old 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 67 

man who had done his work and received his wages, and was 
trying to grow used to weeks aud months made up only of off- 
days. Isabel amused him more than she suspected — the effect 
she produced upon people was often different from what she 
supposed — and he frequently gave himself the pleasure of 
making her chatter. It was by this term that he qualified her 
conversation, which had much of the vivacity observable in that 
of the young ladies of her country, to whom the ear of the world 
is more directly presented than to their sisters in other lands. 
Like the majority of American girls, Isabel had been encouraged 
to express herself ; her remarks had been attended to 3 she had 
been expected to have emoticms and opinions. Many of her 
opinions had doubtless but a slender value, many of her emotions 
passed away in the utterance; but they had left a trace in 
giving her the habit of seeming at least to feel and think, and 
in imparting, moreover, to her words, when she was really moved, 
that artless vividness which so many people had I'egarded as 
a sign of superiority. Mr. Toiichett used to think that she re- 
minded him of his wife when his wife was in her teens. It was 
because she was fresh and natural and quick to understand, to 
speak — so many characteristics of her niece — that he had fallen 
in love with Mrs. Touchett. He never expressed this analogy to 
the girl herself, however ; for if Mrs. Touchett had once been 
like Isabel, Isabel was not at all like Mrs. Touchett. l^e old 
man was full of kindness for her ; it was a long time, as he said, 
since they had had any young life in the house ; and our rustling, 
quickly-moving, clear-voiced heroine was as agreeable to his sense 
as the sound of flowing water. He wished to do something for 
her, he wished she would ask something of him. But Isabel 
asked nothing but questions ; it is true that of these she asked 

a great many. Her uncle had a great fund of answers, though 

F 2 



68 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

interrogation sometimes came in forms that puzzled him. She 
questioned him immensely about England, about the British 
constitution, the English character, the state of politics, the 
manners and customs of the royal family, the peculiarities of 
the aristocracy, the way of living and thinking of his neigh- 
bours; and in asking to be enlightened on these points she 
usually inquired whether they correspond with the descriptions 
in the books. The old man always looked at her a little, with 
his fine dry smile, while he smoothed down the shawl that was 
spread across his legs. 

"The books'?" he once said; "well, I don't know much 
about the books. You must ask Ralph about that. I have 
always ascertained for myself — got my information in the 
natural form. I never asked many questions even ; I just kept 
quiet and took notice. Of course, I have had very good oppor- 
tunities — better than what a young lady would naturally have. 
I am of an inquisitive disposition, though you mightn't think it 
if you were to watch me ; however much you might watch me, 
I should be watching you more. I have been watching these 
people for upwards of thirty-five years, and I don't hesitate to 
say that I have acquired considerable information. It's a very 
fine country on the whole — ^finer perhaps than what we give it 
credit for on the other side. There are several improvements 
that I should like to see introduced; but the necessity of them 
doesn't seem to be generally felt as yet. When the necessity of 
a thing is generally felt, they usually manage to accomplish it ; 
but they seem to feel pretty comfortable about waiting till then. 
I certainly feel more at home among them than I expected to 
when I first came over; I suppose it's because I have had a 
considerable degree of success. When you are successful you 
naturally feel more at home." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 69 

** Do you suppose that if I am successful I shall feel at home?" 
Isabel asked. 

" I should think it very probable, and you certainly will be 
successful They like American young ladies very much over 
here ; they show them a great deal of kindness. But ""you 
mustn't feel too much at home, you know." 

"Oh, I am by no means sure I shall like it," said Isabel, 
somewhat judicially. " I like the place very much, but I am 
not sure I shall like the people." 

" The people are very good people ; especially if you like them." 

" I have no doubt they are good," Isabel rejoined ; " but are 
they pleasant in society 1 They won*t rob me nor beat me ; but 
will they make themselves agreeable to me ? That^s what I like 
people to do. I don't hesitate to say so, because I always 
appreciate it. I don't believe they are very nice to girls ; they 
are not nice to them in the novels." 

" I don't know about the novels," said Mr. Touchett. " I 
believe fhe novels have a great deal of ability, but I don't 
suppose they are very accurate. We once had a lady who wrote 
novels staying here ; she was a friend of Ralph's, and he asked 
her down. She was very positive, very positive ; but she was 
not the sort of person that you could depend on her testimony. 
Too much imagination — I suppose, that was it. She afterwards 
published a work of fiction in which she was understood to have 
given a representation — something in the nature of a caricature, 
as you might say — of my unworthy self. I didn't read it, but 
Ralph just handed me the book, with the principal passages 
marked. It was understood to be a description of my convers- 
ation; American peculiarities, nasal twang, Yankee notions, 
stars and stripes. Well, it was not at all accurate ; she couldn't 
have listened very attentively. I had no objection to her giving 



70 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

a report of my conversation, if she liked ; but I didn't like the 
idea that she hadn't taken the trouble to listen to it. Of course 
I talk like an American — I can't talk like a Hottentot. How- 
ever I talk, I have made them understand me pretty well over 
here. But I don't talk like the old gentleman in that ladys* 
novel. He wasn't an American; we wouldn't have him over 
there ! I just mention that fact to show you that they are not 
always accurate. Of course, as I have no daughters, and aa 
Mrs. Touchett resides in Florence, I haven't had much chance 
to notice about the young ladies. It sometimes appears as if 
the young women in the lower class were not very well treated ; 
but I guess their position is better in the upper class." 

" Dear me ! " Isabel exclaimed ; " how many classes have 
they] About fifty, I suppose." 

" Well, I don't know that I ever counted them. I never 
took much notice of the classes. That's the advantage of being 
an American here ; you don't belong to any class." 

" I hope so," said Isabel " Imagine one's belonging to an 
English class ! " 

" Well, I guess some of them are pretty comfortable — 
especially towards the top. But for me there are only two 
classes : the people I trust, and the people I don't. Of those 
two, my dear Isabel, you belong to the first." 

" I am much obliged to you," said the young girl, quickly. 
Her way of taking compliments seemed sometimes rather dry ; 
she got rid of them as rapidly as possible. But as regards this, 
she was sometimes misjudged ; she was thought insensible to 
them, whereas in fact she was simply unwilling to show how 
infinitely they pleased her. To show that was to show too much. 
" I am sure the English are very conventional," she added. 

'* They have got everything pretty well fixed," Mr. Touchett 



THE PORTRAIT OP A LADY. 71 

• 

admitted. *^ It's all settled beforehand — they don't leave it to 
the last moment.'' 

''I don't like to have everything settled beforehand," said 
the girL ** I like more unexpectedness." 

Her imcle seemed amused at her distinctness of preference. 
^^ Well, it's settled beforehand that you will have great success," 
he rejoined. " I suppose you will like that." 

'^ I shall not have success if they are conventional. I am not 
in the least conventional I am just the contrary. That's what 
they won't like." 

" No, no, you are all wrong," said the old man. " You can't 
tell what they will like. They are very inconsistent; that's 
their principal interest." 

** Ah well," said Isabel, standing before her uncle vnth her 
hands clasped about the belt of her black dress, and looking up 
and down the lawn — " that will suit me perfectly ! " 



72 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



VIL 

The two amused themselves, time and again, with talking 
of the attitude of the British public, as if the young lady had 
been in a position to appeal to it ; but in fact the British public 
remained for the present profoundly indifferent to Miss Isabel 
Archer, whose fortune had dropped her, as her cousin said, into 
the dullest house in England. Her gouty uncle received very 
little company, and Mrs. Touchett, not having cultivated relations 
with her husband's neighbours, was not warranted in expecting 
visits from them. She had, however, a peculiar taste; she 
liked to receive cards. For what is usually called social inter- 
course she had very little relish ; but nothing pleased her more 
than to find her hall-table whitened with oblong morsels of 
symbolic pasteboard. She flattered herself that she was a very 
just woman, and had mastered the sovereign truth that nothing 
in this world is got for nothing. She had played no social part 
as mistress of Gardencourt, and it was not to be supposed that, 
in the surrounding country, a minute account should be kept 
of her comings and goings. But it is by no means certain that 
she did not feel it to be wrong that so little notice was taken 
of them, and that her failure (really very gratuitous) to make 
herself important in the neighbourhood, had not much to do 
with the acrimony of her allusions to her husband's adopted 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 78 

country. Isabel preaently found herself in the singular situation 
of defending the British constitution against her aunt; Mrs. 
Touchett having formed the habit of sticking pins into this 
venerable instrument. Isabel always felt an impulse to pull 
out the pins ; not that she imagined they inflicted any damage 
on the tough old parchment, but because it seemed to her that 
her aunt might make better use of her sharpness. She was very 
critical herself — it was incidental to her age, her sex, and her 
nationality; but she was very sentimental as well, and there 
was something in Mrs. Touchett's dryness that set her own 
moral fountains flowing. * 

" Now what is your point of viewl" she asked of her aunt. 
" When you criticise everything here, you should have a point 
of view. Yours doesn^t seem to be American — you thought 
everything over there so disagreeable. When I criticise, I have 
mine ; it's thoroughly American ! " 

" My dear young lady," said Mrs. Touchett, " there are as 
many points of view in the world as there are people of sense. 
You may say that doesn't make them very numerous ! Ameri- 
can ] Never in the world ; that's shockingly narrow. My 
point of view, thank God, is personal ! " 

Isabel thought this a better answer than she admitted; it 
was a tolerable description of her own manner of judging, but 
it would not have sounded well for her to say so. On the lips 
of a person less advanced in life, and less enlightened by 
experience than Mrs. Touchett, such a declaration would savour 
of immodesty, even of arrogance. She risked it nevertheless, 
in talking with Ealph, with whom she talked a great deal, and 
with whom her conversation was of a sort that gave a large 
licence to violent statements. Her cousin used, as the phrase 
is, to chaff her ; he very soon established with her a reputation 



74 THE PORTRAIT OP A LADY. 

for treating everything as a joke, and he was not a man to 
neglect the privileges such a reputation conferred. She accused 
him of an odious want of seriousness, of laughing at all things, 
beginning with himself. Such slender faculty of reverence as he 
possessed centred wholly upon his father; for the rest, he exercised 
his wit indiscriminately upon his father's son, this gentleman's 
weak lungs, his useless life, his anomalous mother, his friends 
(Lord Warburton in especial), his adopted and his native country, 
his charming new-found cousin. " I keep a band of music in my 
ante-room," he said once to her. " It has orders to play without 
stopping ; it renders me two excellent services. It keeps the 
sounds of the world from reaching the private apartments, and 
it makes the world think that dancing is going on within." It 
was dance-music indeed that you usually heard when you came 
within ear-shot of Ealph's band ; the liveliest waltzes seemed to 
float upon the air. Isabel often found herself irritated by this 
perpetual fiddling; she would have liked to pass through the 
ante-room, as her cousin called it, and enter the private apart- 
ments. It mattered little that he had assured her that they 
were a very dismal place ; she would have been glad to under- 
take to sweep them and set them in order. It was but half- 
hospitality to let her remain outside ; to punish him for which, 
Isabel administered innumerable taps with the ferrule of her 
straight young wit. It must be said that her wit was exercised 
to a large extent in self-defence, for her cousin amused himself 
with calling her " Columbia,'' and accusing her of a patriotism 
so fervid that it scorched. He drew a caricature of her, in 
which she was represented as a very pretty young woman, 
dressed, in the height of the prevailing fashion, in the folds of 
the national banner. Isabel's chief dread in life, at this period 
of her development, was that she should appear narrow-minded ; 



THE PORTRAIT OP A LADY. 76 

yrhat she feared next afterwards was that she should he so. 
But she nevertheless made no scruple of abounding in her 
cousin's sense, and pretending to sigh for the charms of her 
native land. She would be as American as it pleased him to 
regard her, and if he chose to laugh at her, she would give him 
plenty of occupation. She defended England against his 
mother, hut when Ealph sang its praises, on purpose, as she 
said, to torment her, she found herself able to differ from him 
on a variety of points. In tact, the quality of this small ripe 
country seemed as sweet to her as the taste of an October pear ; 
and her satisfaction was at the root of the good spirits which 
enabled her to take her cousin's chaff and return it in kind. If 
her good-humour flagged at moments, it was not because she 
thought herself ill-used, but because she suddenly felt sorry for 
Ealph. It seemed to her that he was talking as a blind and 
had little heart in what he said. 

" I don't know what is the matter with you," she said to him 
once ; " but I suspect you are a great humbug." 

" That's your privilege," Ralph answered, who had not been 
used to being so crudely addressed. 

" I don't know what you care for ; I don't think you care for 
anything. You don't really care for England when you praise it ; 
you don't care for America even when you pretend to abuse it." 

'* I care for nothing but you, dear cousin," said Ealph. 

" If I could believe even that, I should be very glad." 

'^ Ah, well, I should hope so ! " the young man exclaimed. 

Isabel might have believed it, and not have been far from 
the truth. He thought a great deal about her; she was 
constantly present to his mind. At a time when his thoughts 
had been a good deal of a burden to him^ her sudden arrival, 
which promised nothing and was an open-handed gift of 



76 - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

fate, had refreshed and quickened them, given them wings and 
something to fly for. Poor Ealph for many weeks had heen 
steeped in melancholy ; his out-look, hahitually somhre, lay 
under the shadow of a deeper cloud. He had grown anxious 
about his father, whose gout, hitherto confined to his legs, had 
begun to ascend into regions more vital. The old man had 
been gravely ill in the spring, and the doctors had whispered 
to Ralph that another attack would be less easy to deal with. 
Just now he appeared tolerably comfortable, but Ealph could 
not rid himself of a suspicion that this was a subterfuge of the 
enemy, who was waiting to take him off his guard. If the 
manoeuvre should succeed, there would be little hope of any 
great resistance. Ealph had always taken for granted that his 
father would survive him — that his own name would be the 
first called. The father and son had been close companions, 
and the idea of being left alone with the remnant of a tasteless 
life on his hands was not gratifying to the young man, who had 
always and tacitly counted upon his elder's help in making the 
best of a poor business. At the prospect of losing his great 
motive, Ealph was indeed mightily disgusted. If they might 
die at the same time, it would be all very well ; but without 
the encouragement of his father's society he should barely have 
patience to await his own turn. He had not the incentive 
of feeling that he was indispensable to his mother; it was 
a rule with his mother to have no regrets. He bethought 
himself, of course, that it had been a small kindness to his 
father to wish that, of the two, the active rather than the 
passive party should know the pain of loss; he remembered 
that the old man had always treated his own forecast of an 
uncompleted career as a clever fallacy, which he should be 
delighted to discredit so far as he might by dying first. But 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 77 



of the two triumphs, that of refuting a sophistical son and that 
of holding on a while longer to a state of being which, with all 
abatements, he enjoyed, Ealph deemed it no sin to hope that 
the latter might be vouchsafed to Mr. Touchett. 

These were nice questions, but Isabers arrival put a stop to 
his puzzling over them. It even suggested that there might be 
a compensation for the intolerable ennui of surviving his genial 
sire. He wondered whether he were falling in love with this 
spontaneous young woman from Albany ; but he decided that 
on the whole he was not. After he had known her for a week, 
he quite made up his mind to this, and every day he felt a little 
more sure. Lord Warburton had been right about her ; she was 
a thoroughly interesting woman. Ealph wondered how Lord 
Warburton had found it out so soon ; and then he said it was 
only another proof of his friend's high abilities, which he had 
always greatly admired. If his cousin were to be nothing more 
than an entertainment to him, Ealph was conscious that she was 
an entertainment of a high order. " A character like that," he 
said to himself, **is the finest thing in nature. It is finer than 
the finest work of art — than a Greek bas-relief, than a great 
Titian, than a Gothic cathedral. It is very pleasant to be so 
well-treated where one least looked for it. I had never been 
more blue, more bored, than for a week before she came ; I had 
never expected less that something agreeable would happen. 
Suddenly I receive a Titian, by the post, to hang on my wall — 
a Greek bas-relief to stick over my chimney-piece. The key of 
a beautiful edifice is thrust into my hand, and I am told to walk 
in and admire. My poor boy, you have been sadly ungrateful, 
and now you had better keep very quiet and never grumble 
again." The sentiment of these reflections was very just ; but it 
was not exactly true that Ealph Touchett had had a key put 



78 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

into his hand. His cousin was a very brilliant girl, who would 
take, as he said, a good deal of knowing ; but she needed the 
knowing, and his attitude with regard to her, though it was 
contemplative and critical, was not judicial. He surveyed the 
edifice from the outside, and admired it greatly ; he looked in at 
the windows^ and received an impression of proportions equally 
fair. But he felt that he saw it only by glimpses, and that he 
had not yet stood under the roof. The door was fastened, and 
though he had keys in his pocket he had a conviction that none 
of them would fit. She was intelligent and generous ; it was a 
fine free nature ; but what was she going to do with herself ? 
This question was irregular, for with most women one had no 
occasion to ask it. Most women did with themselves nothing at 
all ; they waited, in attitudes more or less gracefully passive, for 
a man to come that way and furnish them with a destiny. Isa- 
bel's originality was that she gave one an impression of having 
intentions of her own. "Whenever she executes them," said 
Ealph, " may I be there to see I " 

It devolved upon him of course to do the honours of the place. 
Mr. Touchett was confined to his chair, and his wife's position 
was that of a rather grim visitor ; so that in the line of conduct 
that opened itself to Ealph, duty and inclination were harmoni- 
ously mingled. He was not a great walker, but he strolled 
about the grounds with his cousin — a pastime for which the 
weather remained favourable with a persistency not allowed for 
in Isabel's somewhat lugubrious prevision of the climate ; and in 
the long afternoons, of which the length was but the measure of 
her gratified eagerness, they took a boat on the river, the dear 
little river, as Isabel called it, where the opposite shore seemed 
still a part of the foreground of the landscape ; or drove over the 
country in a phaeton — a low, capacious, thick-wheeled phaeton 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 79 

formerly much used by Mr. Touchett, but which he had now 
ceased to enjoy. Isabel enjoyed it largely, and, handling the 
reins in a manner which approved itself to the groom as 
"knowing/* was never weary of driving her uncle's capital 
horses through winding lanes and byways full of the rural 
incidents she had confidently expected to find ; past cottages 
thatched and timbered, past ale-houses latticed and sanded, past 
patches of ancient common and glimpses of empty parks, between 
hedgerows made thick by midsummer. When they reached 
home, they usually found that tea had been served upon the 
lawn, and that Mrs. Touchett had not absolved herself from the 
obligation of handing her husband his cup. But the two for the 
most part sat silent ; the old man with his head back and his 
eyes closed, his wife occupied with her knitting, and wearing 
that appearance of extraordinary meditation with which some 
ladies contemplate the movement of their needles. 

One day, however, a visitor had arrived. The two young 
people, after spending an hour upon the river, strolled back to 
the house and perceived Lord Warburton sitting under the trees 
and engaged in conversation of which even at a distance the 
desultory character was appreciable, with Mrs. Touchett. He 
had driven over from his own placa with a portmanteau, and 
had asked, as the father and son often invited him to do, for a 
dinner and a lodging. Isabel, seeing him for half-an-hour on 
the day of her arrival, had discovered in this brief space that she 
liked him ; he had made indeed a tolerably vivid impression on 
her mind, and she had thought of him several times. She had 
hoped that she should see him again — ^hoped too that she should 
see a few others. Gardencourt was not dull ; the place itself 
was so delightful, her uncle was such a perfection of an uncle, 
and lialph was so unlike any cousin she had ever encountered — 



80 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

her view of cousins being rather monotonous. Then her impres- 
sions were still so fresh and so quickly renewed that there was 
as yet hardly a sense of vacancy in the prospect. But Isabel 
had need. to remind herself that she was interested in human 
nature, and that her foremost hope in coming abroad had been 
that she should see a great many people. When Ralph said to 
her, as he had done several times — "I wonder you find this 
endurable ; you ought to see some of the neighbours and some 
of our friends — because we have really got a few, though you 
would never suppose it" — when he offered to invite what he 
called a " lot of people," and make the young girl acquainted 
with English society, she encouraged the hospitable impulse and 
promised, in advance, to be delighted. Little, however, for the 
present, had come of Ralph's offers, and it may be confided to 
the reader that, if the young man delayed to carry them out, it 
was because he found the labour of entertaining his cousin by 
no means so severe as to require extraneous help. Isabel had 
spoken to him very often about '^ specimens " ; it was a word 
that played a considerable part in her vocabulary; she had 
given him to understand that she wished to see English 
society illustrated by figures. 

"Well now, there's a specimen," he said to her, as they 
walked up from the river-side, and he recognised Lord Warburton. 

" A specimen of what 1 " asked the girl. 

" A specimen of an English gentleman." 

" Do you mean they are all like him 1 " 

" Oh no ; they are not all like him." 

" He's a favourable specimen, then," said Isabel ; " because I 
am sure he is good." 

" Yes, he is very good. And he is very fortunate." 

The fortunate Lord Warburton exchanged a handshake with 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 81 



our heroine, and hoped she was very well. " But I needn't ask 
that," he said, " since you have been handling the oars." 

" I have been rowing a little," Isabel answered ; " but how 
should you know it ? " 

" Oh, I know he doesn't row j he's too lazy," said his lordship, 
indicating Ealph Touchett, with a laugh. 

" He has a good excuse for his laziness," Isabel rejoined, 
lowering her voice a little. 

"Ah, he has a good excuse for everything!" cried Lord 
Warburton, still with his deep, agreeable laugh. 

" My excuse for not rowing is that my cousin rows so well," 
said Ealph. " She does everything welL She touches nothing 
that she doesn't adorn ! " 

"It makes one want to be touched, Miss Archer," Lord 
Warburton declared. 

" Be touched in the right sense, and you will never look the 
worse for it," said Isabel, who, if it pleased her to hear it said 
that her accomplishments were numerous, was happily able to 
reflect that such complacency was not the indication of a feeble 
mind, inasmuch as there were several things in which she 
excelled. Her desire to think well of herself alwavs needed to 
be supported by proof; though it is possible that this fact is not 
the sign of a milder egotism. 

Lord Warburton not only spent the night at Gardencourt, but 

he was persuaded to remain over the second day ; and when the 

second day was ended, he determined to postpone his departure 

till the morrow. During this period he addressed much of his 

conversation to Isabel, who accepted this evidence of his esteem 

with a very good grace. She found herself liking him extremely ; 

the first impression he had made upon her was pleasant, but at 

the end of an evening spent in his society she thought him quite 
VOL. I. o 



84 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" Pray do ; but I don't say I shall always think your 
remonstrance just." 

" Very likely not. You are too fond of your liberty." 

" Yes, I think I am very fond of it. But I always want to 
know the things one shouldn't do." 

" So as to do them 1 " asked her aunt. 

*•' So as to choose," said Isabel. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 85 



VIII. 

As she was mucli interested in the picturesque, Lord War- 
burton ventured to express a hope that she would come some 
day and see his house, which was a very curious old place. He 
extracted from Mrs. Touchett a promise that she would bring 
her niece to Lockieigh, and Ralph signified his willingness to 
attend upon the ladies if his father should be able to spare him. 
Lord Warburton assured our heroine that in the mean time his 
sisters would come and see her. She knew something about his 
sisters, having interrogated him, during the hours they spent 
together while he was at Gardencourt, on many points connected 
with his famUy. When Isabel was interested, she asked a great 
many questions, and as her companion was a copious talker, she 
asked him on this occasion by no means in vain. He told her 
that he had four sisters and two brothers, and had lost both his 
parents. The brothers and sisters were very good people — ^^ not 
particularly clever, you know,'* he said, " but simple and respect- 
able and trustworthy ; " and he was so good as to hope that Miss 
Archer should know them well. One of the brothers was in the 
Church, settled in the parsonage at Lockieigh, which was rather 
a largeish parish, and was an excellent fellow, in spite of his 
thinking differently from himself on every conceivable topic. 
And then Lord Warburton mentioned some of the opinions held 



S6 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

by his brother, which were opinions that Isabel had often heard 
expressed and that she supposed to be entertained by a consider- 
able portion of the human family. Many of them, indeed, she 
supposed she had held herself, till he assured her that she was 
quite mistaken, that it was really impossible, that she had 
doubtless imagined she entertained them, but that she might 
depend that, if she thought them over a little, she would find 
there was nothing in them. When she answered that she had 
already thought several of them over very attentively, he declared 
that she was only another example of what he had often been 
struck with — the fact that, of all the people in the world, the 
Americans were the most grossly superstitious. They were rank 
Tories and bigots, every one of them ; there were no conserva- 
tives like American conservatives. Her uncle and her cousin 
were there to prove it ; nothing could be more mediaeval than 
many of their views ; they had ideas that people in England 
now-a-days were ashamed to confess to ; and they had the impud- 
ence, moreover, said his lordship, laughing, to pretend they know 
more about the needs and dangers of this poor dear stupid old 
England than he who was bom in it and owned a considerable 
part of it — ^the more shame to him ! From all of which Isabel 
gathered that Lord Warburton was a nobleman of the newest 
pattern, a reformer, a radical, a contemner of ancient ways. His 
other brother, who was in the army in India, was rather wild 
and pig-headed, and had not been of much use as yet but to 
make debts for Warburton to pay — one of the most precious 
privileges of an elder brother. " I don't think I will pay any 
more," said Warburton ; " he lives a monstrous deal better than 
I do, enjoys unheard-of luxuries, and thinks himself a much finer 
gentleman than I. As I am a consistent radical, I go in only 
for equality ; I don't go in for the superiority of the younger 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 87 

brothers." Two of his four sisters, the second and fourth, were 
married, one of them having 4one very well, as they said, the 
other only so-so. The husband of the elder, Lord Haycock, was 
a very good fellow, but unfortunately a horrid Tory; and his 
wife, like all good English wives, was worse than her husband. 
The other had espoused a smallish squire in Norfolk^ and, though 
she was married only the other day, had already live children. 
This information, and much more. Lord Warburton imparted to 
his young American listener, taking pains to make many things 
clear and to lay bare to her apprehension the peculiarities of 
English life. Isabel was often amused at his explicitness and 
at the small allowance he seemed to make either for her own 
experience or for her imagination. "He thinks I am a bar- 
barian,'* she said, "and that I have never seen forks and spoons;*' 
and she used to ask him artless questions for the pleasure of 
hearing him answer seriously. Then when he had fallen into 
the trap — " It's a pity you can't see me in my war-paint and 
feathers," she remarked ; " if I had known how kind you are 
to the poor savages, I would have brought over my national 
costume ! " Lord Warburton had travelled through the United 
States, and knew much more about them than Isabel ; he was 
so good as to say that America was the most charming country 
in the world, but his recollections of it appeared to encourage 
the idea that Americans in England would need to have a great 
many things explained to them. " If I had only had you to 
explain things to me in America ! " he said. " I was rather 
puzzled in your country ; in fact, I was quite bewildered, and 
the trouble was that the explanations only puzzled me more. 
You know I think they often gave me the wrong ones on 
purpose ; they are rather clever about that over there. But 
when I explain, you can trust me ; about what I tell you there 



88 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

is no mistake." There was no mistake at least about his being 
very intelligent and cultivated, and knowing almost everything 
in the world. Although he said the most interesting and 
entertaining things, Isabel perceived that he never said them to 
exhibit himseH, and though he had a great good fortune, he was 
as far as possible from making a merit of it. He had enjoyed 
the best things of life, but they had not spoiled his sense of 
proportion. His composition was a mixture of good-humoured 
manly force and a modesty that at times was almost boyish ; 
the sweet and wholesome savour of which — it was as agreeable 
as something tasted — lost nothing from the addition of a tone 
of kindness which was not boyish, inasmuch as there was a 
good deal of reflection and of conscience in it. 

*' I like your specimen English gentleman very much," Isabel 
said to Ralph, after Lord Warburton had gone. 

"I like him too — I love him well," said Ralph. "But I 
pity him more." 

Isabel looked at him askance. 

"Why, that seems to me his only fault — ^that one can't 
pity him a little. He appears to have everything, to know 
everything, to be everything." 

" Oh, he's in a bad way," Ralph insisted. 

*' I suppose you don't mean in health 1 " 

" No, as to that, he's detestably robust. What I mean is 
that he is a man with a great position, who is playing all sorts 
of tricks with it. He doesn't take himself seriously." 

" Does he regard himself as a joke ? " 

" Much worse ; he regards himself as an imposition — as an 
abuse." 

" Well, perhaps he is," said Isabel 

"Perhaps he is — though on the whole I don't think so. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 89 



But in that case, what is more pitiable than a sentient, self- 
conscious abuse, planted by other hands, deeply rooted, but 
aching with a sense of its injustice? For me, I could take the 
poor fellow very seriously ; he occupies a position that appeals 
to my imaginaiion. Great responsibilities, great opportunities, 
great consideration, great wealth, great power, a natural share in 
the public affairs of a great country. But he is all in a muddle 
about himself, his position, his power, and everything elae. He 
is the victim of a critical age ; he has ceased to believe in him- 
self, and he doesn't know what to believe in. When I attempt 
to tell him (because if I were he, I know very well what I 
should believe in), he calls me an old-fashioned and narrow- 
minded person. I believe he seriously thinks me an awful 
Philistine ; he says I don't understand my time. I understand 
it certainly better than he, who can neither abolish himself as a 
nuisance nor maintain himself as an institution." 

" He doesn't look very wretched," Isabel observed. 

" Possibly not ; though, being a man of imagination, I think 
he often has uncomfortable hours. But what is it to say of a 
man of his opportunities that he is not miserable 1 Besides, I 
believe he is." 

" I don't," said Isabel. 

" Well/' her cousin rejoined, " if he is not, he ought to be ! " 

In the afternoon she spent an hour with her uncle on the 
lawn, where the old man sat, as usual, with his shawl over his 
legs and his large cup of diluted tea in his hands. In the course 
of conversation he asked her what she thought of their late visitor. 

" I think he is charming," Isabel answered. 

"He's a fine fellow," said Mr. Touchett, "but I don't 
recommend you to fall in love with him." 

'*I shall not do it then; I shall never fall in love but on 



90 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

your recommendation. Moreover," Isabel added, "my cousin 
gives me a rather sad account of Lord Warburton." 

" Oh, indeed ] I don't know what there may be to say, but 
you must remember that Kalph is rather fanciful." 

"He thinks Lord Warburton is too radical — or not radical 
enough ! I don't quite understand which," said Isabel. 

The old man shook his head slowly, smiled, and put down 
his cup. 

" I don't know which, either. He goes very far, but it is 
quite possible he doesn't go far enougL He seems to want to do 
away with a good many things, but he seems to want to remain 
himself. I suppose that is natural ; but it is rather inconsistent." 

" Oh, I hope he will remain himself," said Isabel. " If he 
were to be done away with, his friends would miss him sadly." 

" Well," said the old man, " I guess he'll stay and amuse his 
friends. I should certainly miss him very much here at Garden- 
court. He always amuses me when he comes over, and I think 
he amuses himself as well. There is a considerable number like 
him, round in society ; they are very fashionable just now. I 
don't know what they are trying to do — whether they are trying 
to get up a revolution ; I hope at any rate they will put it off 
till after I am gone. You see they want to disestablish every- 
thing ; but I'm a pretty big landowner here, and I don't want 
to be disestablished. I wouldn't have come over if I had 
thought they were going to behave like that," Mr. Touchett 
went on, with expanding hilarity. " I came over because I 
thought England was a safe country. ^ I call it a regular fraud, 
if they are going to introduce any considerable changes; there'll 
be a large number disappointed in that case." 

" Oh, I do hope they will make a revolution ! " Isabel 
exclaimed. " I should delight in seeing a revolution." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 91 

" Let me see," said her uncle, with a humorous intention ; 
" I forget whether you are a liheral or a conservative. I have 
heard you take such opposite views." 

" I am both. I think I am- a little of everything. In a 
revolution — after it was well begun — I think I should be a 
conservative. One sympathises more with them, and they have 
a chance to behave so picturesquely." 

"I don't know that I understand what you mean by 
behaving picturesquely, but it seems to me that you do that 
always, my dear." 

**0h, you lovely man, if I could believe that!" the girl 
interrupted. 

" I am afraid, after all, you won't have the pleasure of seeing 
a revolution here just now," Mr. Touchett went on. " If you 
want to see one, you must pay us a long visit. You see, when 
you come to the point, it wouldn't suit them to be taken at 
their word." 

" Of whom are you speaking 1 " 

" Well, I mean Lord Warburton and his friends — the radicals 
of the upper class. Of course I only know the way it strikes 
me. They talk about changes, but I don't think they quite 
realise. You and I, you know, we know what it is to have 
lived under democratic institutions ; I always thought them 
very comfortable, but I was used to them from the first. But 
then, I ain't a lord ; you're a lady, my dear, but I ain't a lord. 
Now, over here, I don't think it quite comes home to them. 
It's a matter of every day and every hour, and I don't think 
many of them would find it as pleasant as what they've got. 
Of course if they want to try, it's their own business ; but I 
expect they won't try very hard." 

" Don't you think they are sincere 1 " Isabel asked. 



92 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" Well, they are very conscientious," Mr. Touchett allowed ; 
" but it seems as if they took it out in theories, mostly. Their 
radical views are a kind of amusement ; they have got to have 
some amusement, and they might have coarser tastes than that. 
You see they are very luxurious, and these progressive ideas are 
about their biggest luxury. They make them feel moral, and 
yet they don't affect their position. They think a great deal of 
their position; don't let one of them ever persuade you he 
doesn't, for if you were to proceed on that basis, you would be 
pulled up very short." 

Isabel followed her uncle's argument, which he unfolded with 
his mild, reflective, optimistic accent, most attentively, and 
though she was unacquainted with the British aristocracy, she 
found it in harmony with her general impressions of human 
nature. But she felt moved to put in a protest on Lord 
Warburton's behalf. 

" I don't believe Lord Warburton's a humbug," she said ; " I 
don't care what the others are. I should like to see Lord 
Warburton put to the test." 

" Heaven deliver me from my friends ! " Mr. Touchett 
answered. " Lord Warburton is a very amiable young man — a 
very fine young man. He has a hundred thousand a year. He 
owns fifty thousand acres of the soil of this little island. He 
has half-a-dozen houses to live in. He has a seat in Parliament 
as I have one at my own dinner-table. He has very cultivated 
tastes — cares for literature, for art, for science, for charming 
young ladies. The most cultivated is his taste for the new 
views. It affords him a great deal of entertainment — more 
perhaps than anything else, except the young ladies. His old 
house over there — what does he call it, Lockleighl — ^is very 
attractive; but I don't think it is as pleasant as this. That 



THE PORTEAIT OF A LADY. 93 

doesn't matter, however — he has got so many others. His views 
don't hurt any one as far as I can see ; they certainly don't hurt 
himself. And if there were to be a revolution, he would come 
off very easily ; they wouldn't touch him, they would leave him 
as he is ; he is too much liked." 

" Ah, he couldn't be a martyr even if he wished ! " Isabel 
exclaimed. " That's a very poor position." 

" He will never be a martyr unless you make him one," said 
the old man. 

Isabel shook her head; there might have been something 
laughable in the fact that she did it with a touch of sadness. 

" I shall never make any one a martyr." 

" You will never be one, I hope." 

" I hope not. But you don't pity Lord Warburton, then, as 
Kalph does 1 " 

Her uncle looked at her a while, with genial acuteness. 

" Yes, I do, after all ! " 



94 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



IX. 

The two Misses Molyneux, this nobleman's sisters, came 
presently to call upon her, and Isabel took a fancy to the young 
ladies, who appeared to her to have a very original stamp. It is 
true that, when she spoke of them to her cousin as original, he 
declared that no epithet could be less applicable than this to the 
two Misses Molyneux, for that there were fifty thousand young 
women in England who exactly resembled them. Deprived of 
this advantage, however, Isabel's visitors retained that of an 
extreme sweetness and shyness of demeanour, and of having, as 
she thought, the kindest eyes in the world. 

"They are not morbid, at any rate, whatever they are," our 
heroine said to herself ; and she deemed this a great charm, for 
two or three of the friends of her girlhood had been regrettably 
open to the charge (they would have been so nice without it), to 
say nothing of Isabel's having occasionally suspected that it 
might become a fault of her own. The Misses Molyneux were 
not in their first youth, but they had bright, fresh complexions, 
and something of the smile of childhood. Their eyes, which 
Isabel admired so much, were quiet and contented, and their 
figures, of a generous roundness, were encased in sealskin 
jackets. Their friendliness was great, so great that they were 
almost embarrassed to. show it; they seemed somewhat afraid of 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 95 



the young lady from the other side of the world, and rather 
looked than spoke their good wishes. But they made it clear to 
her that they hoped she would come to lunch at Lockleigh, 
where they lived with their brother, and then they might see her 
very, very often. They wondered whether she wouldn't come 
over some day and sleep ; they were expecting some people on 
the twenty-ninth, and perhaps she would come while the people 
were there. 

" I'm afraid it isn't any one very remarkable," said the elder 
sister ; " but I daresay you will take us as you find us." 

" I shall find you delightful ; I think you are enchanting just 
as you are," replied Isabel, who often praised profusely. 

Her visitors blushed, and her cousin told her, after they were 
gone, that if she said such things to those poor girls, they would 
think she was quizzing them ; he was sure it was the first time 
they had been called enchanting. 

" I can't help it," Isabel answered. " I think it's lovely to be so 
quiet, and reasonable, and satisfied. I should like to be like that." 

" Heaven forbid ! " cried Kalph, with ardour. 

" I mean to try and imitate them," said Isabel '* I want very 
much to see them at home." 

She had this pleasure a few days later, when, with Kalph and 
his mother, she drove over to Lockleigh. She found the Misses 
Molyneux sitting in a vast drawing-room (she perceived after- 
wards it was one of several), in a wilderness of faded chintz ; 
they were dressed on this occasion in black velveteen. Isabel 
liked them even better at home than she had done at Garden- 
court, and was more than ever struck with the fact that they 
were not morbid. It had seemed to her before that, if they had 
a fault, it was a want of vivacity ; but she presently saw that 
they were capable of deep emotion. Before lunch she was alone 



96 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

with them, for some time, on one side of the room, while Lord 
Warburton, at a distance, talked to Mrs. Touchett. 

"Is it true that your brother is such a great radical ? " Isabel 
asked. She knew it was true, but we have seen that her interest 
in human nature was keen, and she had a desire to draw the 
Misses Molyneux out. 

" Oh dear, yes ; he*s immensely advanced," said Mildred, the 
younger sister. 

** At the same time, Warburton is very reasonable," Miss 
Molyneux observed. 

Isabel watched him a moment, at the other side of the room ; 
he was evidently trying hard to make himself agreeable to 
Mrs. Touchett. Ralph was playing with one of the dogs before 
the fire, which the temperature of an English August, in the 
ancient, spacious room, had not made an impertinence. "Do 
you suppose your brother is sincere 1 " Isabel inquired with a 
smile. 

" Oh, he must be, you know ! " Mildred exclaimed, quickly ; 
while the elder sister gazed at our heroine in silence. 

" Do you think he would stand the test 1 " 

" The test 1 " 

" I mean, for instance, having to give up all this ! " 

" Having to give up Lockleigh ? " said Miss Molyneux, finding 
her voice. 

" Yes, and the other places ; what are they called 1 " 

The two sisters exchanged an almost frightened glance. "Do 
you mean — do you mean on account of the expense 1 " the younger 
one asked. 

" I daresay he might let one or two of his houses," said the 
other. 

" Let them for nothing 1 " Isabel inquired. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 97 

" I can't fancy his giving up his property/' said Miss 
Molyneux. 

" Ah, I am afraid he is an impostor ! " Isabel exclaimed, 
" Don't you think it's a false position 1 " 

Her companions, evidently, were rapidly getting bewildered. 
" My brother's position 1 *' Miss Moljmeux inquired. 

" It's thought a very good position," said the younger sister. 
" It's the first position in the county." 

" I suspect you think me very irreverent,'* Isabel took occa- 
sion to observe. " I suppose you revere your brother, and are 
rather afraid of him." 

" Of course one looks up to one's brother," said Miss Molyneux, 
simply. 

" If you do that, he must be very good — because you, evi- 
dently, are very good." 

" He is most kind. It will never be known, the good he does. " 

" His ability is known," Mildred added ; " every one thinks 
it*s immense." 

**0h, I can see that," said Isabel "But if I were he, I 
should wish to be a conservative. I should wish to keep every- 
thing." 

** I think one ought to be liberal," Mildred argued, gently. 
" We have always been so, even from the earliest times." 

" Ah well," said Isabel, " you have made a great success of it ; I 
don't wonder you like it. I see you are very fond of crewels." 

When Lord Warburton showed her the house, after lunch, it 
seemed to her a matter of course that it should be a noble pic- 
ture. Within, it had been a good deal modernised — some of its 
best points had lost their purity ; but as they saw it from the 
gardens, a stout, grey pile, of the softest, deepest, most weather- 
fretted hue, rising from a broad, still moat, it seemed to Isabel 

VOL. I. H 



98 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

a castle in a fairy-tale. The day was cool and rather lustreless ; 
the first note of autumn had been struck ; and the watery sun- 
shine rested on the walls in blurred and desultory gleams, wash- 
ing them, as it were, in places tenderly chosen, where the ache 
of antiquity was keenest. Her host's brother, the Vicar, had 
come to lunch, and Isabel had had five minutes' talk with him — 
time enough to institute a search for theological characteristics 
and give it up as vain. The characteristics of the Vicar of 
Lockleigh were a big, athletic figure, a candid, natural counten- 
ance, a capacious appetite, and a tendency to abundant laughter. 
Isabel learned afterwards from her cousin that, before taking 
orders, he had been a mighty wrestler, and that he was still, on 
occasion — in the privacy of the family circle as it were — quite 
capable of flooring his man. Isabel liked him — she was in the 
mood for liking everything; but her imagination was a good 
deal taxed to think of him as a source of spiritual aid. The 
whole party, on leaving lunch, went to walk in the grounds ; but 
Lord Warburton exercised some ingenuity in engaging his 
youngest visitor in a stroll somewhat apart from the others. 

" I vidsh you to see the place properly, seriously," he said. 
" You can't do so if your attention is distracted by irrelevant 
gossip." His own conversation (though he told Isabel a good 
deal about the house, which had a very curious history) was not 
purely archaeological ; he reverted at intervals to matters more 
personal — matters personal to the young lady as well as to him- 
self. But at last, after a pause of some duration, returning for 
a moment to their ostensible theme, " Ah, well," he said, " I 
am very glad indeed you like the old house. I wish you could 
see more of it — that you could stay here a while. My sisters 
have taken an immense fancy to you — if that would be any 
inducement." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 99 



" There is no want of inducements/* Isabel answered ; " but 
I am afraid I can't make engagements. I am quite in my 
aunt's hands." 

" Ah, excuse me if I say I don't exactly believe that. I am 
pretty sure you can do whatever you want." 

" I am soiTy if I make that impression on you ; I don't think 
it's a nice impression to make." 

"It has the merit of permitting me to hope." And Lord 
Warburton paused a moment. 

" To hope what 1 " 

" That in future I may see you often." 

" Ah," said Isabel, " to enjoy that pleasure, I needn't be so 
terribly emancipated." 

" Doubtless not ; and yet, at the same time, I don't think your 
uncle likes me." 

" You are very much mistaken. I have heard him speak very 
highly of you." 

" I am glad you have talked about me," said Lord Warburton. 
" But, all the same, I don't think he would like me to keep 
coming to Gardencourt." 

"I can't answer for my uncle's tastes," the girl rejoined, 
" though I ought, as far as possible, to take them into account. 
But, for myself, I shall be very glad to see you." 

" Now that's what I like to hear you say. I am charmed 
when you say that." 

" You are easily charmed, my lord," said Isabel. 

" No, I am not easily charmed ! " And then he stopped a 
moment. "But you have charmed me, Miss Archer," he 
added. 

These words were uttered with an indefinable sound which 
startled the girl; it struck her as the prelude to something 

H 2 



100 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

grave ; she had heard the sound before, and she recognised it. 
She had no wish, however, that for the moment such a prelude 
should have a sequel, and she said, as gaily as possible and as 
quickly as an appreciable degree of agitation would allow her, " I 
am afraid there is no prospect of my being able to come here 
again." 

" Never 1 " said Lord Warburton. 

" I won't say * never ' ; I should feel very melodramatic." 

" May I come and see you then some day next week 1 " 

" Most assuredly. What is there to prevent it 1 " 

" Nothing tangible. But with you I never feel safe. I have 
a sort of sense that you are always judging people." 

" You don't of necessity lose by that." 

" It is very kind of you to say so ; but even if I gain, stern 
justice is not what I most love. Is Mrs. Touchett going to t&ke 
you abroad 1 " 

" I hope so." 

" Is England not good enough for you 1 " 

" That's a very Machiavellian speech ; it doesn't deserve an 
answer. I want very much to see foreign lands as welL" 

'^ Then you will go on judging, I suppose." 

" Enjoying, I hope, too." 

" Yes, that's what you enjoy most ; I can't make out what you 
are up to," said Lord Warburton. " You strike me as having 
mysterious purposes — ^vast designs ! " 

" You are so good as to have a theory about me which I don't 
at all fill out. Is there anything mysterious in a purpose enter- 
tained and executed every year, in the most public manner, by 
fifty thousand of my fellow-countrymen — the purpose of improving 
one's mind by foreign travel 1 " 

** You can't improve your mind, Miss Archer," her companion 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 101 

declared. '' It's already a most formidable instrument. It looks 
down on us all ; it despises us." 

" Despises you 1 You are making fun of me," said Isabel, 
seriously. 

" Well, you think us picturesque — that's the same thing. I 
won't be thought picturesque, to begin with ; I am not so in the 
least. I protest." 

** That protest is one of the most picturesque things I have 
ever heard," Isabel answered with a smile. 

Lord Warburton was silent a moment. " You judge only from 
the outside — ^you don't care," he said presently. "You only 
care to amuse yourself ! " The note she had heard in his voice 
a moment before reappeared, and mixed with it now was an 
audible strain of bitterness — a bitterness so abrupt and inconse- 
quent that the girl was afraid she had hurt him. She had often 
heard that the English were a highly eccentric people ; and she 
had even read in some ingenious author that they were, at bottom, 
the most romantic of races. Was Lord Warburton suddenly 
turning romantic — was he going to make a scene, in his own 
house, only the third time they had met 1 She was reassured, 
quickly enough, by her sense of his great good manners, which 
was not impaired by the fact that he had already touched the 
furthest limit of good taste in expressing his admiration of a ^ 
young lady who had confided in his hospitality. She was 
right in trusting to his good manners, for he presently went on, 
laughing a little, and without a trace of the accent that had dis- 
composed her — " I don't mean, of course, that you amuse yourself 
with trifles. You select great materials ; the foibles, the afflic- 
tions of human nature, the peculiarities of nations ! " 

"As regards that," said Isabel, "I should find in my own, 
nation entertainment for a lifetime. But we have a long drive, 



102 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

and my aunt will soon wish to start." She turned back toward 
the others, and Lord Warbnrton walked beside her in silence. 
But before they reached the others — " I shall come and see you 
next week," he said. 

She had received an appreciable shock, but as it died away 
she felt that she could not pretend to herself that it was alto- 
gether a painful one. Nevertheless, she made answer to this 
declaration, coldly enough, "Just as you please." And her 
coldness was not coquetry — ^a quality that she possessed in a 
much smaller degree than would have seemed probable to many 
critics j it came from a certain fear. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A JJlDY. 108 



X. - 

The day after her visit to Lockleigh she received a note from 
her friend, Miss Stackpole — a note of which the envelope, 
exhibiting in conjunction the postmark of Liverpool and the 
neat calligraphy of the quick-fingered Henrietta, caused her some 
liveliness of emotion. " Here I am, my lovely friend," Miss 
Stackpole wrote ; " I managed to get off at last. I decided only 
the night before I left New York — ^the Intei'vieioer having come 
round to my figure. I put a few things into a bag, like a veteran 
journalist, and came down to the steamer in a street-car. Where 
are you, and where can we meet 1 I suppose you are visiting at 
some castle or other, and have already acquired the correct 
accent. Perhaps, even, you have married a lord ; I almost hope 
you have, for I want some introductions to the first people, and 
shall count on you for a few. The Interviewer wants some light 
on the nobility. My first impressions (of the people at large) 
are not rose-coloured ; but I wish to talk them over with you, 
and you know that whatever I am, at least I am not superficial. 
I have also something very particular to tell you. Do appoint a 
meeting as quickly as you can ; come to London (I should like 
so much to visit the sights with you), or else let me come to you, 
wherever you are, I will do so with pleasure ; for you know . 



104 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

everything interests me, and I wish to see as much as possible of 
the inner life." 

Isabel did not show this letter to her uncle ; but she acquainted 
him with its purport, and, as she expected, he begged her 
instantly to assure Miss Stackpole, in his name, that he should 
be delighted to receive her at Gardencourt, " Though she is a 
literary lady," he said, ** I suppose that, being an American, she 
won't reproduce me, as that other one did. She has seen others 
like me." 

" She has seen no other so delightful ! " Isabel answered ; but 
she was not altogether at ease about Henrietta's reproductive 
instincts, which belonged to that side of her friend's character 
which she regarded with least complacency. She wrote to Miss 
Stackpole, however, that she would be very welcome under Mr. 
Touchett's roof; and this enterprising young woman lost no time 
in signifying her intention of arriving. She had gone up to 
London, and it was from the metropolis ^that she took the train 
for the station nearest to Gardencourt, where Isabel and Ralpli 
were in waiting to receive the visitor. 

"Shall I love her, or shall I hate herl" asked Ealph, 
while they stood on the platform, before the advent of the 
train. 

"Whichever you do will matter very little to her," said 
Isabel. " She doesn't care a straw what men think of her." 

" As a man I am bound to dislike her, then. She must be a 
kind of monster. Is she very ugly 1 " 

" No, she is decidedly pretty." 

" A female interviewer — a reporter in petticoats 1 I am very 
curious to see her," Kalph declared. 

"It is very easy to laugh at her, but it is not easy to be as 
brave as she." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 105 

" I should think not ; interviewing requires bravery. ]3o you 
suppose she will interview me 1 " 

"Never in the world. She will not think you of enough 
importance." 

" You will see," said Ralph. " She will send a description of 
us all, including Bunchie, to her newspaper." 

" I shall ask her not to," Isabel answered. 

** You think she is capable of it, then." 

" Perfectly." 

" And yet you have made her your bosom-friend 1 *' 

" I have not made her my bosom-friend ; but I like her, in 
spite of her faults." 

"Ah, well," said Ealph, "I am afraid I shall dislike her, in 
spite of her merits." 

" You will probably fall in love with her at the end of three 
days." 

"And have my love-letters published in the Interviewer? 
Never ! " cried the young man. 

The train presently arrived, and Miss Stackpole, promptly 
descending, proved to be, as Isabel had said, decidedly pretty. 
She was a fair, plump person, of mediimi stature, with a round 
face, a small mouth, a delicate complexion, a bunch of light 
brown ringlets at the back of her head, and a peculiarly open, 
surprised-looking eye. The most striking point in her appear- 
ance was the remarkable fixedness of this organ, which rested 
without impudence or defiance, but as if in conscientious exercise 
of a natural right, upon every object it happened to encounter. 
It rested in this manner upon Ealph himself, who was somewhat 
disconcerted by Miss Stackpole's gracious and comfortable aspect, 
which seemed to indicate that it would not be so easy as be had 
assumed to disapprove of her. She was very well dressed, in 



106 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

fresh, dove-coloured draperies, and Ealph saw at a glance that 
she was scrupulously, fastidiously neat. From top to toe she 
carried not an ink-stain. She spoke in a clear, high voice — a 
voice not rich, but loud, though after she had taken her place, 
with her companions, in Mr. Touchett's carriage, she struck him, 
rather to his surprise, as not an abundant talker. She answered 
the inquiries made of her by Isabel, however, and in which the 
young man ventured to join, with a great deal of precision and 
distinctness ; and later, in the library at Gardencourt, when she 
had made the acquaintance of Mr. Touchett (his wife not having 
thought it necessary to appear), did more to give the measure of 
her conversational powers. 

" Well, I should like to know whether you consider yourselves 
American or English," she said. " If once I knew, I could talk 
to you accordingly." 

"Talk to us anyhow, and we shall be thankful," Ralph 
answered, liberally. 

She fixed her eyes upon him, and there was something in 
their character that reminded him of large, polished buttons ; he 
seemed to see the reflection of surrounding objects upon the 
pupiL The expression of a button is not usually deemed human, 
but there was something in Miss Stackpole's gaze that made him, 
as he was a very modest man, feel vaguely embarrassed and 
uncomfortable. This sensation, it must be added, after he had 
spent a day or two in her company, sensibly diminished, though 
it never wholly disappeared. "I don't suppose that you are 
going to undertake to persuade me that you are an American," 
she said. 

" To please you, I will be an Englishman, I will be a Turk ! " 

"Well, if you can change about that way, you are very 
welcome," Miss Stackpole rejoined. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 107 

" I am sure you understand everything, and that diflferences 
of nationality are no barrier to you/* Ralph went on. 

Miss Stackpole gazed at him stilL " Do you mean the foreign 
languages 1 " 

" The languages are nothing. I mean the spirit — ^the genius." 

" I am not sure that I understand you," said the correspondent 
of the Inter inewer ; " but I expect I shall before I leave." 

" He is what is called a cosmopolitan," Isabel suggested. 

" That means he's a little of everything and not much of any. 
I must "-say I think patriotism is like charity — it begins at 
home." 

" Ah, but where does home begin, Miss Stackpole 1 " Ralph 
inquired. 

" I don't know where it begins, but I know where it ends. 
It ended a long time before I got here." 

" Don't you like it over here 1 " asked Mr. Touchett, with his 
mild, wise, aged, innocent voice. 

" Well, sir, I haven't quite made up my mind what ground I 
shall take. I feel a good deal cramped. I felt it on the journey 
from Liverpool to London." 

" Perhaps you were in a crowded carriage," Ralph suggested. 

" Yes, but it was crowded with friends — a party of Americans 
whose acquaintance I had made upon the steamer > a most lovely 
group, from Little Rock, Arkansas. In spite of that I felt 
cramped — I felt something pressing upon me; I couldn't tell 
what it was. I felt at the very commencement as if I were not 
going to sympathise with the atmosphere. But I suppose I 
shall make my own atmosphere. Your surroundings seem very 
attractive." 

"Ah, we too are a lovely group!" said Ralph. "Wait a 
little and you will see." 



110 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

this place, don't you know some place I can describe 1 " Isabel 
promised she would bethink herself, and the next day, in con- 
versation with her friend, she happened to mention her visit to 
Lord Warburton's ancient house. "Ah, you must take me 
there — that is just the place for me ! " Miss Stackpole exclaimed. 
" I must get a glimpse of the nobility." 

"I can't take you," said Isabel; "but Lord Warburton is 
coming here, and you will have a chance to see him and observe 
him. Only if you intend to repeat his conversation, I shall 
certainly give him warning." 

" Don't do that," her companion begged ; " I want him to 
be natural" 

" An Englishman is never so natural as when he is holding 
his tongue," Isabel rejoined. 

It was not apparent, at the end of three days, that his cousin 
had fallen in love with their visitor, though he had spent a good 
deal of time in her society. They strolled about the park 
together, and sat under the trees, and in the afternoon, when 
it was delightful to float along the Thames, Miss Stackpole 
occupied a place in the boat in which hitherto Ralph had had 
but a single companion. Her society had a less insoluble quality 
than Ralph had expected in the natural perturbation of his sense 
of the perfect adequacy of that of his cousin ; for the corre- 
spondent of the Interviewer made him laugh a good deal, and he 
had long since decided that abundant laughter should be the 
embellishment of the remainder of his days. Henrietta, on her 
side, did not quite justify Isabel's declaration with regard to her 
indifference to masculine opinion ; for poor Ralph appeared to 
have presented himself to her as an irritating problem, which it 
would be superficial on her part not to solve. 

" What does he do for a living % " she asked of Isabel, the 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. Ill 



evening of her arrivaL " Does he go round all day with his 
hands in his pockets ] '' 

" He does nothing," said Isabel, smiling ; " he's a gentleman 
of leisure." 

" Well, I call that a shame — when I have to work like a cotton- 
mill," Miss Stackpole replied. " I should like to show him up." 

" He is in wretched health ; he is quite unfit for work," Isabel 
urged. 

" Pshaw ! don't you believe it. I work when I am sick," 
cried her friend. Later, when she stepped into the boat, on 
joining the water-party, she remarked to Kalph that she sup- 
posed he hated her — he would like to drown her. 

" Ah, no," said Ealph, " I keep my victims for a slower 
torture. And you would be such an interesting one ! " 

" Well, you do torture me, I may say that. But I shock all 
your prejudices ; that's one comfort." 

" My prejudices ] I haven't a prejudice to bless myself with. 
There's intellectual poverty for you." 

" The more shame to you ; I have some delicious prejudices. 
Of course I spoil your flirtation, or whatever it is you call it, 
with your cousin ; but I don't care for that, for I render your 
cousin the service of drawing you out. She will see how thin 
you are." 

" Ah, do draw me out ! " Ealph exclaimed. " So few people 
will take the trouble." 

Miss Stackpole, in this undertaking, appeared to shrink from 
no trouble ; resorting largely, whenever the opportunity offered, 
to the natural expedient of interrogation. On the following day 
the weather was bad, and in the afternoon the young man, by 
way of providing in-door amusement, offered to show her the 
pictures. Henrietta strolled through the long gallery in his 



112 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

society, while he pointed out its principal ornaments and men- 
tioned the painters and subjects. Miss Stackpole looked at the 
pictures in perfect silence, committing herself to no opinion, and 
Ralph was gratified by the fact that she delivered herself of none 
of the little ready-made ejaculations of delight of which the 
visitors to Grardencourt were so frequently lavish. This young 
lady, indeed, to do her justice, was but little addicted to the 
use of conventional phrases ; there was something earnest and 
inventive in her tone, which at times, in its brilliant deliberation, 
suggested a person of high culture speaking a foreign language. 
Ralph Touchett subsequently learned that she had at one time 
ojB&ciated as art-critic to a Transatlantic journal ; but she appeared, 
in spite of this fact, to carry in her pocket none of the small 
change of admiration. Suddenly, just after he had called her 
attention to a charming Constable, she turned and looked at him 
as if he himself had been a picture. 

" Do you always spend your time like this 1 " she demanded. 

" I seldom spend it so agreeably," said RalpL 

" Well, you know what I mean — without any regular occu- 
pation." 

" Ah," said Ralph, " I am the idlest man living." 

Miss Stackpole turned her gaze to the Constable again, and 
Ralph bespoke her attention for a small Watteau hanging near 
it, which represented a gentleman in a pink doublet and hose and 
a ruff, leaning against the pedestal of the statue of a nymph in a 
garden, and playing the guitar to two ladies seated on the grass. 

" That's my ideal of a regular occupation," he said. 

Miss Stackpole turned to him again, and though her eyes had 
rested upon the picture, he saw that she had not apprehended 
the subject She was thinking of something much more 
serious. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 113 



" I don't see how you can reconcile it to your conscience," 
she said. 

" My dear lady, I have no conscience ! " 

"Well, I advise you to cultivate one. You will need it the 
next time you go to America.'* 

" I shall probably never go again." 

" Are you ashamed to show yourself 1 " 

Ealph meditated, with a gentle smile. 

" I suppose that, if one has no conscience, one has no shame." 

*' Well, you have got plenty of assurance," Henrietta declared. 
" Do you consider it right to give up your country 1 " 

" Ah, one doesn't give up one's country any more than one 
gives up one's grandmother. It's antecedent to choice." 

" I suppose that means that you would give it up if you 
could ? What do they think of you over here 1 " 

" They delight in me." 

" That's because you truckle to them." 

" Ah, set it down a little to my natural charm ! " Ealph urged. 

" I don't know anything about your natural charm. If you 
have got any charm, it's quite unnatural. It's wholly acquired 
— or at least you have tried hard to acquire it, living over here. 
I don't say you have succeeded. It's a charm that I don't 
appreciate, any way. Make yourself useful in some way, and 
then we will talk about it." 

" Well now, tell me what I shall do," said Ealph. 

" Go right home, to begin with." 

" Yes, I see. And then 1 " 

" Take right hold of something." 

" WeU, now, what sort of thing 1 " 

" Anything you please, so long as you take hold. Some new 
idea, some big work" 

VOL. I. 1 



114 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

*^ Ib it yerj difBcnlt to take hold 1 " Balph inquiied. 

" Not if you put your heart into it." 

^* Ah, my heart,'' said Balph. ** If it depends upon my 
heart " 

" Haven't you got any 1 ** 

*^ I had one a few days ago, but I have lost it since." 

''You are not serious," Miss Stackpole remarked; ''thafs 
whaf s the matter with you." But for all this, in a day or two 
she again permitted him to fix his attention, and on this 
occasion assigned a different cause to his mysterious perversity. 
'' I know what's the matter with you, Mr. Touchett," she said. 
*' You think you are too good to get married." 

'' I thought so till I |knew you. Miss Stackpole," Ralph 
answered; **and then I suddenly changed my mind." 

'' Oh, pshaw ! " Henrietta exclaimed impatiently. 

" Then it seemed to me,*' said Ralph, " that I was not good 
enough." 

" It would improve you. Besides, it's your duty." 

" Ah," cried the young man, " one has so many duties ! Is ^ 
that a duty tool" 

" Of course it is — did you never know that before \ It's 
every one's duty to get married." 

Ralph meditated a moment ; he was disappointed. There 
was something in Miss Stackpole he had begun to like ; it 
seemed to him that if she was not a charming woman she 
was at least a very good feUow. She was wanting in dis- 
tinction, but, as Isabel had said, she was byave, and there 
is always something fine about that. He had not supposed 
her to be capable of vulgar arts ; but these last words struck 
him as a false note. When a marriageable young woman 
urges matrimony upon an unencumbered young man, the most 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 116 

obvious explanation of her conduct is not the altruistic 
impulse. 

" Ah, well now, there is a good deal to be said about that," 
Ralph rejoined. 

" There may be, but that is the principal thing. I must say 
I think it looks very exclusive, going round all alone, as if you 
thought no woman was good enough for you. Do you think 
you are better than any one else in the world ] In America it's 
usual for people to marry." 

" If it's my duty," Ralph asked, " is it not, by analogy, youra 
as well!" 

Miss Stackpole's brilliant eyes expanded still further. 

" Have you the fond hope of finding a flaw in my reason- 
ing 1 Of course I have got as good a right to marry as any one 
else." 

" Well then," said Ralph, " I won't say it vexes me to see 
you single. It delights me rather." 

" You are not serious yet. You never will be." 

" Shall you not believe me to be so on the day that I tell 
you I desire to give up the practice of going round alone 1 " 

Miss Stackpole looked at him for a moment in a manner 
which seemed to announce a reply that might technically be 
called encouraging. But to his great surprise this expression 
suddenly resolved itself into an appearance of alarm, and even 
of resentment. 

" No, not even then," she answered, dryly. After which she 
walked away. 

" I have not fallen in love with your friend," Ralph said that 
evening to Isabel, " though we talked some time this morning 
about it." 

"And you said something she didn't like," the girl replied. 

I 2 



116 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

Ralph stared. " Has she complained of me 1 " 

" She told me she thinks there is something very low in the 
tone of Europeans towards women." 

** Does she call me a European 1 " 

** One of the worst. She told me you had said to her some- 
thing that an American never would have said. But she didn't 
repeat it." 

Ralph treated himself to a burst of resounding laughter. 

" She is an extraordinary combination. Did she think I 
was making love to her 1 " 

" No ; I believe even Americans do that. But she apparently 
thought you mistook the intention of something she had said, 
and put an unkind construction on it." 

" I thought she was proposing marriage to me, and I accepted 
her. Was that unkind 1 " 

Isabel smiled. "It was unkind to me. I don't want you 
to marry." 

" My dear cousin, what is one to do among you all 1 " Ralph 
demanded. " Miss Stackpole tells me it's my bounden duty, 
and that it's hers to see I do mine ! " 

" She has a' great sense of duty," said Isabel, gravely. " She 
has, indeed, and it's the motive of everything she says. That's 
what I like her for. She thinks it's very frivolous for you to 
be single; that's what she meant to express to you. If you 
thought she was trying to — to attract you, you were very 
wrong." 

" It is true it was an odd way ; but I did think she was 
trying to attract me. Excuse my superficiality." 

" You are very conceited. She had no interested views, and 
never supposed you would think she had." 

" One must be very modest, then, to talk with such women," 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 117 



Ralph said, humbly. " But it's a very strange type. She is 
too personal — considering that she expects other people not to 
be. She walks in without knocking at the door." 

" Yes," Isabel admitted, " she doesn't sufficiently recognise the 
existence of knockers ; and indeed I am not sure that she 
doesn't think them a rather pretentious ornament. She thinks 
one's door should stand ajar. But I persist in liking her." 

** I persist in thinking her too familiar," Ralph rejoined, 
naturally somewhat uncomfortable under the sense of having 
been doubly deceived in Miss Stackpole. 

" Well," said Isabel, smiling, " I am afraid it is because she 
is rather vulgar that I like her." 

" She would be flattered by your reason ! " 

" If I should tell her, I would not express it in that way. I 
should say it is because there is something of the ' people ' in 
her." 

" What do you know about the people 1 and what does she, 
for that matter ] " 

" She knows a great deal, and I know enough to feel that she 
is a kind of emanation of the great democracy — of the continent, 
the country, the nation. I don't say that she sums it all up, 
that would be too much to ask of her. But she suggests it ; 
she reminds me of it." 

" You like her then for patriotic reasons. I am afraid it is 
on those very grounds that I object to her." 

" All," said Isabel, with a kind of joyous sigh, " I like so 
many things ! If a thing strikes me in a certain way, I like it. 
I don't want to boast, but I suppose I am rather versatile. I 
like people to be totally difl^rent from Henrietta — in the style 
of Lord Warburton's sisters, for instance. So long as I look at 
the Misses Molyneux, they seem to me to answer a kind of ideal 



118 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. ' 

Then Henrietta presents herself, and I am immensely struck 
with her ; not so much for herself as what stands behind her.** 

" Ah, you mean the back view of her," Ralph suggested. 

"What she says is true," his cousin answered; "you will never 
be serious. I like the great country stretching away beyond 
the rivers and across the prairies, blooming and smiling and 
spreading, till it stops at the blue Pacific ! A strong, sweet, 
fresh odour seems to rise from it, and Henrietta— excuse my 
simile — has something of that odour in her garments." 

Isabel blushed a little as she concluded this speech, and the 
blush, together with the momentary ardour she had thrown into 
it, was so becoming to her that Ealph stood smiling at her for a 
moment after she had ceased speaking. 

" I am not sure the Pacific is blue," he said ; " but you are a 
woman of imagination. Henrietta, however, is fragrant — Hen- 
rietta is decidedly fragrant ! " 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 119 



XL 

He took a resolve after this not to misinterpret lier words, 
even when Miss Stackpole appeared to strike the personal note 
most strongly. He bethought himself that persons, in her view, 
were simple and homogeneous organisms, and that he, for his 
own part, was too perverted a representative of human nature to 
have a right to deal with her in strict reciprocity. He carried 
out his resolve with a great deal of tact, and the young lady 
found in her relations with him no obstacle to the exercise of 
that somewhat aggressive frankness which was the social expres- 
sion of her nature. Her situation at Gardencourt, therefore, 
appreciate as we have seen her to be by Isabel, and full of 
appreciation herself of that fine freedom of composition which, 
to her sense, rendered Isabel's character a sister-spirit, and of 
the easy venerableness of Mr. Touchett, whose general tone, as 
she said, met with her full approval — ^her situation at Garden- 
court would have been perfectly comfortable, had she not con- 
ceived an irresistible mistrust of the little lady to whom she had 
at first supposed herself obliged to pay a certain deference as 
mistress of the house. She presently discovered, however, that 
this obligation was of the lightest, and that Mrs. Touchett cared 
very little how Miss Stackpole behaved. Mrs. Touchett had 
spoken of her to Isabel as a ** newspaper-woman,'* and expressed 



120 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

some surprise at her niece's having selected such a friend ; but 
she had immediately added that she knew IsabeFs friends were 
her own affair, and that she never undertook to like them all, 
or to restrict the girl to those she liked. 

" If you could see none but the people I like, my dear, you 
would have a very small society," Mrs. Touchett frankly 
admitted; " and I don't think I like any man or woman well 
enough to recommend them to you. When it comes to recom- 
mending, it is a serious affair. I don't like Miss Stackpole — I 
don't like her tone. She talks too loud, and she looks at me 
too hard. I am sure she has lived all her life in a boarding- 
house, and I detest the style of manners that such a way of 
living produces. If you ask me if I prefer my own manners, 
which you doubtless think very bad, I will tell you that I 
prefer them immensely. Miss Stackpole knows that I detest 
boarding-house civilisation, and she detests me for detesting it, 
because she thinks it is the highest in the world. She would 
like Gardencourt a great deal better if it were a boarding-house. 
For me, I find it almost too much of one ! We shall never get 
on together, therefore, and there is no use trying." 

Mrs. Touchett was right in guessing that Henrietta disap- 
proved of her, but she had not quite put her finger on the reason. 
A day or two after Miss Stackpole's arrival she had made some 
invidious reflections on American hotels, which excited a vein 
of counter-argument on the part of the correspondent of the 
Interviewer^ who in the exercise of her profession had acquired 
a large familiarity with the technical hospitality of her country. 
Henrietta expressed the opinion that American hotels were the 
best in the world, and Mrs. Touchett recorded a conviction that 
they were the worst. Ealph, with his experimental geniality, 
suggested, by way of healing the breach, that the truth lay 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 121 

between the two extremes, and that the establishments in 
question ought to be described as fair middling. This contribu- 
tion to the discussion, however. Miss Stackpole rejected with 
scorn. Middling, indeed ! If they were not the best in the 
world, they were the worst, but there was nothing middling 
about an American hotel 

" We judge from different points of view, evidently," said 
Mrs. Touchett. " I like to be treated as an individual ; you 
like to be treated as a * party.' " 

** I don't know what you mean," Henrietta replied. " I like 
to be treated as an American lady." 

" Poor American ladies ! " cried Mrs. Touchett, with a laugh. 
**They are the slaves of slaves." 

" They are the companions of freemen," Henrietta rejoined. 

"They are the companions of their servants — the Irish 
chambermaid and the negro waiter. ^ They share their work." 

" Do you call the domestics in an American household 
* slaves ' ] " Miss Stackpole inquired. " If that's the way you 
desire to treat them, no wonder you don't like America." 

" If you have not good servants, you are miserable," Mrs. 
Touchett said, serenely. " They are very bad in America, but 
I have five perfect ones in Florence." 

" I don't see what you want with five," Henrietta could not 
help observing. " I don't think I should like to see five persons 
surrounding me in that menial position." 

" I like them in that position better than in some others," 
cried Mrs. Touchett, with a laugh. 

" Should you like me better if I were your butler, dear 1 " her 
husband asked. 

"I don't think I should; you would make a very poor 
butler." 



122 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" The companions of freemen — I like that, Mias JStaokpole," 
said Ealph. " It's a beautiful description." 

** When I said freemen, I didn't mean you, sir 1 " 

And this was the only reward that Ealph got for his compli- 
ment. Miss Stackpole was baffled ; she evidently thought there 
was something treasonable in Mrs. Touchett's appreciation of a 
class which she privately suspected of being a mysterious survival 
of feudalism. It was perhaps because her mind was oppressed 
with this image that she suffered some days to elapse before she 
said to Isabel in the morning, while they were alone together, 

" My dear friend, I wonder whether you are growing faith- 
less r' 

" Faithless 1 Faithless to you, Henrietta 1 '* 

" No, that would be a great pain ; but it is not that." 

" Faithless to my country, then ] " 

"Ah, that I hope will never be. When I wrote to you 
from Liverpool, I said I had something particular to tell you. 
You have never asked me what it is. Is it because you have 
suspected ] " 

" Suspected whati As a rule, I don't think I suspect,'* 
said Isabel. "I remember now that phrase in your letter, 
but I confess I had forgotten it. What have you to tell 
meV 

Henrietta looked disappointed, and her steady gaze betrayed it 

" You don't ask that right — as if you thought it important. 
You are changed — ^you are thinking of other things." 

" Tell me what you mean, and I will think of that." 

" Will you really think of it ] That is what I wish to be 
sure of." 

" I have not much control of my thoughts, but I will do my 
best," said Isabel 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 123 

Henrietta gazed at her, in silence, for a period of time which 
tried Isabers patience, so that our heroine said at last — 

" Do you mean that you are going to be married 1 ** 

" Not till I have seen Europe ! " said Miss Stackpole. " What 
are you laughing at ] " she went on. " What I mean is, that Mr. 
Goodwood came out in the steamer with me." 

" Ah ! *' Isabel exclaimed, quickly. 

^' You say that right. I had a good deal of talk with him ; 
he has come after you." 

" Did he tell you so 1 " 

"No, he told me nothing; that's how I knew it," said 
Henrietta, cleverly. " He said very little about you, but I spoke 
of you a good deal" 

Isabel was silent a moment. At the mention of Mr. Good- 
wood's name she had coloured a little, and now her blush was 
slowly fading. 

" I am very sorry you did that," she observed at last. 

'' It was a pleasure to me, and I liked the way he listened. 
I could have talked a long time to such a listener; he was 
so quiet, so intense ; he drank it all in." 

" What did you say about me ? " Isabel asked. 

" I said you were on the whole the finest creature I know.";, I 

" I am very sorry for that. He thinks too well of me already ; 
he ought not to be encouraged." 

" He is dying for a little encouragement. I see his face now, 
and his earnest, absorbed look, while I talked. I never saw an 
ugly man look so handsome ! " 

*'He is very simple-minded," said Isabel. "And he is not 
so ugly." 

" There is nothing so simple as a great passion." 

" It is not a great passion ; I am very sure it is not that." 



124 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



" You don't say that as if you were sure." 

Isabel gave rather a cold smile. 

" I shall say it better to Mr. Goodwood himself ! " 

" He will soon give you a chance," said Henrietta. 

Isabel offered no answer to this assertion, which her com- 
panion made with an air of great confidence. 

** He will find you changed," the latter pursued. " You have 
been affected by your new surroundings." 

** Very likely. I am affected by everything." 

" By everything but Mr. Goodwood ! " Miss Stackpole ex- 
claimed, with a laugL 

Isabel failed even to smile in reply ; and in a moment she 
said — 

" Did he ask you to speak to me 1 " 

"Not in so many words. But his eyes asked it — and his 
handshake, when he bade me good-bye." 

" Thank you for doing so." And Isabel turned away. 

" Yes, you are changed ; you have got new ideas over here," 
her friend continued. 

" I hope so," said Isabel ; " one should get as many new ideas 
as possible." 

" Yes ; but they shouldn't interfere with the old ones." 

Isabel turned about again. " If you mean that I had 

any idea with regard to Mr. Goodwood " And then 

she paused; Henrietta's bright eyes seemed to her to grow 
enormous. 

" My dear child, you certainly encouraged him," said Miss 
Stackpole. 

Isabel appeared for the moment to be on the point of denying 
this charge, but instead of this she presently answered — " It 
is very true; I did encourage him." And then she inquired 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 125 

whether her companion had learned from Mr. Goodwood what 
he intended to do. This inquiry was a concession to curiosity, 
for she did not enjoy discussing the gentleman with Henrietta 
Stackpole, and she thought that in her treatment of the suhject 
this faithful friend lacked delicacy. 

" I asked him, and he said he meant to do nothing," Miss 
Stackpole answered. " But I don't helieve that ; .he*s not a man 
to do nothing. He is a man of action. Whatever happens to 
him, he will always do something, and whatever he does will 
he right." 

"I quite helieve that," said Isahel. Henrietta might he 
wanting in delicacy ; hut it touched the girl, all the same, to 
hear this rich assertion made. 

" Ah, you do care for him," Henrietta murmured. 

" Whatever he does will he right," Isahel repeated. " When 
a man is of that supernatural mould, what does it matter to him 
whether one cares for him ? " 

" It may not matter to him, but it matters to one's self." 

" Ah, what it matters to me, that is not what we are discuss- 
ing," said Isabel, smiling a little. 

This time her companion was grave. " Well, I don't care ; 
you have changed," she replied. " You are not the girl you 
were a few short weeks ago, and Mr. Goodwood will see it. I 
expect him here any day." 

" I hope he will hate me, then," said Isabel. 

" I believe that you hope it about as much as I believe that 
he is capable of it." 

To this observation our heroine made no rejoinder ; she was 
absorbed in the feeling of alarm given her by Henrietta's intim- 
ation that Caspar Goodwood would present himself at Garden - 
court. Alarm is perhaps a violent term to apply to the uneasiness 



126 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

with which she regarded this contingency ; but her uneasiness 
was keen, and there were various good reasons for it. She 
pretended to herself that she thought the event impossible, and, 
later, she communicated her disbelief to her friend ; but for the 
next forty-eight hours, nevertheless, she stood prepared to hear 
the young man's name announced. The feeling was oppressive ; 
it made the air sultry, as if there were to be a change of 
weather;- and the weather, socially speaking, had been so agree- 
able during Isabel's stay at Grardeucourt that any change would 
be for the worse. Her suspense, however, was dissipated on the 
second day. She had walked into the park, in company with 
the sociable Bunchie, and after strolling about for some time, in 
a manner at once listless and restless, had seated herself on a 
garden-bench, within sight of the house, beneath a spreading 
beech, where, in a white dress ornamented with black ribbons, 
she formed, among the flickering shadows, a very graceful and 
harmonious image. She entertained herself for some moments 
with talking to the little terrier, as to whom the proposal of an 
ownership divided with her cousin had been applied as impar- 
tially as possible — as impartially as Bunchie's own somewhat 
fickle and inconstant sympathies would allow. But she was 
notified for the first time, on this occasion, of the finite character 
of Bunchie's intellect; hitherto she had been mainly struck with 
its extent. It seemed to her at last that she would do well to 
take a book ; formerly, when she felt heavy-hearted, she had 
been able, with the help of some well-chosen volume, to transfer 
the seat of consciousness to the organ of pure reason. Of late, 
however, it was not to be denied, literature seemed a fading 
light, and even after she had reminded herself that her uncle's 
library was provided with a complete set of those authors which 
no gentleman's collection should be without, she sat motionless 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 127 

and empty-handed, with her eyes fixed upon the cool green turf 
of the lawn. Her meditations were presently interrupted by 
the arrival of a servant, who handed her a letter. The letter 
bore the London postmark, and was addressed in a hand that 
she knew — that she seemed to know all the better, indeed, as 
the writer had been present to her mind when the letter was 
delivered. This document proved to be short, and I may give 
it entire. 

**My dear Miss Arohbr — I don't know whether you will 
have heard of my coming to England, but even if you have not, 
it will scarcely be a surprise to you. You will remember that 
when you gave me my dismissal at Albany three months ago, I 
did not accept it. I protested against it. You in fact appeared 
to accept my protest, and to admit that I had the right on my 
side. I had come to see you with the hope that you would let 
me bring you over to my conviction ; my reasons for entertaining 
this hope had been of the best. But you dbappointed it ; I 
found you changed, and you were able to give me no reason for 
the change. You admitted that you were unreasonable, and it 
was the only concession you would make ; but it was a very 
cheap one, because you are not unreasonable. No, you are not, 
and you never will be. Therefore it is that I believe you will 
let me see you again. You told me that I am not disagreeable 
to you, and I believe it ; for I don't see why that should be. I 
shall always think of you ; I shall never think of any one else. 
I came to England simply because you are here ; I couldn't stay 
at home after you had gone ; I hated the country because you 
were not in it. If I like this country at present, it is only 
because you are here. I have been to England before, but I 
have never enjoyed it much. May I not come and see you 



128 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 






for half-an-hourl This at present is the dearest wish of, yours 
faithfully, 

" Caspar Goodwood." 

Isabel read Mr. Goodwood's letter with such profound atten- 
tion that she had not perceived an approaching tread on the soft 
grass. Looking up, however, as she mechanically folded the 
paper, she saw Lord Warburton standing before her. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 129 



XIL 

She put the letter into her pocket, and offered her visitor a 
smile of welcome, exhibiting no trace of discomposure, and half 
surprised at her self-possession. 

** They told me you were out here," said Lord Warburton ; 
" and as there was no one in the drawing-room, and it is really 
you that I wish to see, I came out with no more ado." 

Isabel had got up ; she felt a wish, for the moment, that he 
should not sit down beside her. " I was just going in-doors," 
she said. 

"Please don't do that; it is much pleasanter here; I have 
ridden over from Lockleigh ; it's a lovely day." His smile was 
peculiarly friendly and pleasing, and his whole person seemed to 
emit that radiance of good-feeling and good fare which had 
formed the charm of the girl's first impression of him. It 
surrounded him like a zone of fine June weather. 

"We will walk about a little, then," said Isabel, who could 
not divest herself of the sense of an intention on the part of her 
visitor, and who wished both to elude the intention and to satisfy 
her curiosity regarding it. It had flashed upon her vision once 
before, and it had given her on that occasion, as we know, a 
certain alarm. This alarm was composed of several elements, not 
all of which were disagreeable ; she had indeed spent some days 

VOL. I. K 



180 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

in analysing them, and had succeeded in separating the pleasant 
part of this idea of Lord Warhurton*s making love to her from 
the painful. It may appear to some readers that the young lady 
was hoth precipitate and unduly fastidious; but the latter of 
these facts, if the charge be true, may serve to exonerate her from 
the discredit of the former. She was not eager to convince her- 
self that a territorial magnate, as she had heard Lord Warburton 
called, was smitten with her charms ; because a declaration from 
such a source would point more questions than it would answer. 
She had received a strong impression of Lord Warburton*s being 
a personage, and she had occupied herself in examining the idea. 
At the risk of making the reader smile, it must be said that there 
had been moments when the intimation that she was admired by 
a " personage " struck her as an aggression which she would 
rather have been spared. She had never known a personage 
before ; there were no personages in her native land. When she 
had thought of such matters as this, she had done so on the basis 
of character — of what one liked in a gentleman's mind and in 
his talk. She herself was a character — she could not help being 
aware of that ; and hitherto her visions of a completed life had 
concerned themselves largely with moral images — things as to 
which the question would be whether they pleased her soul. 
Lord Warburton loomed up before her, largely and brightly, as a 
collection of attributes and powers which were not to be measured 
by this simple rule, but which demanded a diiSerent sort of 
appreciation — an appreciation which the girl, with her habit of 
judging quickly and freely, felt that she lacked the patience to 
bestow. Of course, there would be a short cut to it, and, as Lord 
Warburton was evidently a very fine fellow, it would probably 
also be a safe cut. Isabel was able to say all this to herself, but 
she was unable to feel the force of it. What she felt was that a 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. ICl 

territorial, a political, a social magnate had conceived the design 
of drawing her into the system in which he lived and moved. A 
certain instinct, not imperious, but persuasive, told her to resist 
— it murmured to her that virtually she had a system and an 
orbit of her own. It told her other things besides— things which 
both contradicted and confirmed each other ; that a girl might 
do much worse than trust herself to such a man as Lord War- 
burton, and that it would be very interesting to see something of 
his system from his own point of view ; that, on the other hand, 
however, there was evidently a great deal of it which she should 
regard only as an incumbrance, and that even in the whole there 
was something heavy and rigid which would make it unaccept- 
able. Furthermore, there was a young man lately come from 
America who had no system at all ; but who had a character of 
which it was useless for her to try to persuade herself that the 
impression on her mind had been light. The letter that she 
carried in her pocket sufficiently reminded her of the contrary. 
Smile not, however, I venture to repeat, at this simple young 
lady from Albany, who debated whether she should accept 
an English peer before he had offered himself, and who 
was disposed to believe that on the whole she could do better. 
She was a person of great good faith, and if there was a great 
deal of folly in her wisdom, those who judge her severely may 
have the satisfaction of finding that, later, she became consist- 
ently wise only at the cost of an amount of folly which will 
constitute almost a direct appeal to charity. 

Lord Warburton seemed quite ready to walk, to sit, or to do 
anything that Isabel should propose, and he gave her this assur- 
ance with his usual air of being particularly pleased to exercise a 
social virtue. But he was, nevertheless, not in command of his 
emotions, and as he strolled beside her for a moment, in silence, 

E 2 



132 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

looking at her without letting her know it, there was something 
emharrassed in his glance and his misdirected laughter. Yes, 
assuredly — as we have touched on the point, we may return to 
it for a moment again — ^the English are the most romantic people 
in the world, and Lord Warburton was ahout to give an example 
of it. He was about to take a step which would astonish aUr his 
friends and displease a great many of them, and which, superfici- 
ally, had nothing to recommend it. The young lady who trod 
the turf beside him had come from a queer country across the 
sea, which he knew a good deal about ; her antecedents, her 
associations, were very vague to his mind, except in so far as they 
were generic, and in this sense they revealed themselves with a 
certain vividness. Miss Archer had neither a fortune nor the sort 
of beauty that justifies a man to the multitude, and he calculated 
that he had spent about twenty-six hours in her company. He 
had summed up all this — the perversity of the impulse, which 
had declined to avail itself of the most liberal opportunities to 
subside, and the judgment of mankind, as exemplified particularly 
in the more quickly-judging half of it; he had looked these 
things well in the face, and then he had dismissed them from his 
thoughts. He cared no more for them than for the rosebud in 
his button-hole. It is the good fortune of a man who for the 
greater part of a lifetime has abstained without effort from 
making himself disagreeable to his friends, that when the need 
comes for such a course it is not discredited by irritating 
associations. 

" I hope you had a pleasant ride," said Isabel, who observed 
her companion's hesitancy. 

" It would have been pleasant if for nothing else than that it 
brought me here,'' Lord Warburton answered. 

" Are you so fond of Gardencourt 1 " the girl asked ; more 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 133 

and more sure that he meant to make some demand of her ; 
wishing not to challenge him if he hesitated, and yet to keep 
all the quietness of her reason if he proceeded. It suddenly 
came upon her that her situation was one which a few weeks 
ago she would have deemed deeply romantic ; the park of an 
old English country-house, with the foreground embellished by 
a local nobleman in the act of making love to a young lady 
who, on careful inspection, should be found to present remarkable 
analogies with herself. But if she were now the heroine of the 
situation, she succeeded scarcely the less in looking at it from 
the outside. 

" I care nothing for Gardencourt," said Lord Warburton ; ** I 
care only for you." 

" You have known me too short a time to have a right to 
say that, and I cannot believe you are serious." 

These words of IsabeFs were not perfectly sincere, for she 
had no doubt whatever that he was serious. They were simply 
a tribute to the feict, of which she was perfectly aware, that 
those he himself had just uttered would have excited surprise 
on the part of the public at large. And, moreover, if anything 
beside the sense she had already acquired that Lord Warburton 
was not a frivolous person had been needed to convince her, the 
tone in which he replied to her would quite have served the 
purpose. 

" One's right in such a matter is not measured by the time, 
Miss Archer ; it is measured by the feeling itself. If I were to 
wait three months, it would make no difference ; I shall not be 
more sure of what I mean than I am to-day. Of course I have 
seen you very little; but my impression dates from the very 
first hour we met. I lost no time ; I fell in love with you 
then. It was at first sight, as the novels say; I know now 



134 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

that is not a fancy-phrase, and I shall think better of novels 
for evermore. Those two days I spent here settled it ; I don't 
know whether you suspected I was doing so, but I paid — 
mentally speaking, I mean — the greatest possible attention to. 
you. Nothing you said, nothing you did, was lost upon me. 
When you came to Gardencourt the other day — or rather, when 
you went away — I was perfectly sure. Nevertheless, I made 
up my mind to think it over, and to question myself narrowly. 
I have done so ; all these days I have thought of nothing else. 
I don't make mistakes about such things; I am a very 
judicious fellow. I don't go off easily, but when I am touched, 
it's for life. It's for life. Miss Archer, it's for life," Lord 
Warburton repeated in the kindest, tenderest, pleasantest voice 
Isabel had ever heard, and looking at her with eyes that shone 
with the light of a passion that had sifted itself clear of the 
baser parts of emotion — the heat, the violence, the unreason — 
and which burned as steadily as a lamp in a windless place. 

By tacit consent, as he talked, they had walked more and 
more slowly, and at last they stopped, and he took her hand. 

" Ah, Lord Warburton, how little you know me ! " Isabel said, 
very gently ; gently, too, she drew her hand away. 

" Don't taunt me with that ; that I don't know you better 
makes me unhappy enough already ; it's all my loss. But that 
is what I want, and it seems to me I am taking the best way. 
If you will be my wife, then I shall know you, and when I tell 
you all the good I think of you, you will not be able to say it 
is from ignorance." 

" If you know me little, I know you even less," said IsabeL 

"You mean that, unlike yourself, I may not improve on 
acquaintance? Ah, of course, that is very possible. But 
think, to speak to you as I do, how determined I must be 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 136 

to try and give satisfaction! You do like me rather, don't 
you 1 " 

" I like you very much, Lord Warhurton," the girl answered ; 
and at this moment she liked him immensely. 

" I thank you for saying that ; it shows you don't regard me 
as a stranger. I really believe I have filled all the other 
relations of life very creditably, and I don't see why I should 
not fill this one — ^in which I offer myself to you — seeing that I 
care so much more about it. Ask the people who know me 
well ; I have friends who will speak for me." 

"I don't need the recommendation of your friends,'* said 
Isabel. 

"Ah now, that is delightful of you. You believe in me 
yourself." 

" Completely," Isabel declared ; and it was the truth. 

The light in her companion's eyes turned into a smile, and he 
gave a long exhalation of joy. 

, "If you are mistaken. Miss Archer, let me lose all I 
possess ! " 

She wondered whether he meant this for a reminder that he 
was rich, and, on the instant, felt sure that he did not. He 
was sinking that, as he would have said himself; and indeed 
he might safely leave it to the memory of any interlocutor, 
especially of one to whom he was offering his hand. Isabel 
had prayed that she might not be agitated, and her mind was 
tranquil enough, even while she listened and asked herself what 
it was best she should say, to indulge^ in this incidental 
criticism. What she should say, had she asked herself 1 Her 
foremost wish was to say something as nearly as possible as 
kind as what he had said to her. His words had carried 
perfect conviction with them ; she felt that he loved her. 



136 THE PORTRAIT OF k LADY. 

"I thank you more than I can say for your offer/' she 
rejoined at last ; " it does me great honour." 

" Ah, don*t say that ! " Lord Warburton broke out. " I was 
afraid you would say something like that. I don't see what 
you have to do with that sort of thing. I don't see why you 
should thank me — ^it is I who ought to thank you, for listening 
to me ; a man whom you know so little, coming down on you 
with such a thumper ! Of course it's a great question ; I must 
tell you that I would rather ask it than have it to answer 
myself. But the way you have listened — or at least your 
having listened at all — ogives me some hope." 

" Don't hope too much," Isabel said. 

" Oh, Miss Archer ! " her companion murmured, smiling 
again in his seriousness, as if such a warning might perhaps be 
taken but as the play of high spirits — ^the coquetry of elation. 

" Should you be greatly surprised if I were to beg you not to 
hope at all ? " Isabel asked. 

" Surprised 1 I don't know what you mean by surprise. It 
wouldn't be that ; it would be a feeling very much worse." 

Isabel walked on again ; she was silent for some minutes. 

" I am very sure that, highly as I already think of you, my 
opinion of you, if I should know you well, would only rise. 
But I am by no means sure that you would not be disappointed. 
And I say that not in the least out of conventional modesty ; 
it is perfectly sincere." 

"I am willing to risk it, Miss Archer," her companion 
answered. 

" It's a great question, as you say ; it's a very difl&cult 
question." 

" I don't expect you, of course, to answer it outright. Think 
it over as long as may be necessary. If I can gain by waiting, 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 137 

I will gladly wait a long time. Only remember that in the end 
my dearest happiness depends upon your answer." 

" I should be very sorry to keep you in suspense," said 
Isabel. 

" Oh, don't mind. I would much rather have a good answer 
six months hence than a bad one to-day." 

" But it is very probable that even six months hence I should 
not be able to give you one that you would think good." 

" Why not, since you really like me 1 " 

" Ah, you must never doubt of that," said Isabel. 
,; ," Well, then, I don't see what more you ask ! " 

" It is not what I ask ; it is what I can give. I don't think 
I should suit you ; I really don't think I should." 

"You needn't bother about that; that's my affair. You 
needn't be a better royalist than the king." 

" It is not only that," said Isabel ; " but I am not sure I wish 
to marry any one." 

"Very likely you don't. I have no doubt a great many 
women begin that way," said his lordship, who, be it averred, 
did not in the least believe in the axiom he thus beguiled his 
anxiety by uttering. " But they are frequently persuaded." 

" Ah, that is because they want to be ! " 

And Isabel lightly laughed. 

Her suitor's countenance fell, and he looked at her for a 
whHe in silence. 

" I'm afraid it's my being an Englishman that makes you 
hesitate," he saidj presently. " I know your uncle thinks you 
ought to marry in your own country." 

Isabel listened to this assertion with some interest; it had 
never occurred to her that Mr. Touchett was Hkely to discuss 
her matrimonial prospects with Lord Warburton. 



138 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" Has he told you that 1 " she asked. 

" I remember his making the remark ; he spoke perhaps of 
Americans generally." 

" He appears himself to have found it very pleasant to live in 
England," said Isabel, in a manner that might have seemed a 
little perverse, but which expressed both her constant perception 
of her uncle's pictorial circumstances and her general dis- 
position to elude any obligation to take a restricted view. 

It gave her companion hope, and he immediately exclaimed, 
warmly — 

*' Ah, my dear Miss Archer, old England is a very good sort 
of country, you know ! And it will be still better when we 
have furbished it up a little." 

"Oh, don't furbish it, Lord Warburton; leave it alone; I 
like it this way." 

" Well, then, if you like it, I am more and more unable to 
see your objection to what I propose." 

" I am afraid I can't make you understand." 

" You ought at least to try ; I have got a fair intelligence. 
Are you afraid — afraid of the climate? We can easily live 
elsewhere, you know. You can pick out your climate, the 
whole world over." 

These words were uttered with a tender eagerness which 
went to Isabel's heart, and she would have given her little 
finger at that moment, to feel, strongly and simply, the 
impulse to answer, "Lord Warburton, it is impossible for 
a woman to do better in this world than to commit herself 
to your loyalty," But though she could conceive the impulse, 
she could not let it operate; her imagination was charmed, 
but it was not led captive. What she finally bethought 
herself of saying was something very different — something 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 139 

which altogether deferred the need of answering, " Don't 
think me unkind if I ask you to say no more about this to-day." 

" Certainly, certainly 1 " cried Lord Warburton. " I wouldn't 
bore you for the world." 

" You have given me a great deal to think about, and I 
promise you I will do it justice." 

"That's all I ask of you, of course — and that you will 
remember that my happiness is in your hands." 

Isabel listened with extreme respect to this admonition, 
but she said after a minute — "I must tell you that what 
I shall think about is some way of letting you know that what 
you ask is impossible, without making you miserable." 

" There is no way to do that. Miss Archer. I won't say that, 
if you refuse me, you will kill me ; I shall not die of it. But I 
shall do worse ; I shall live to no purpose." 

" You will live to marry a better woman than I." 

" Don't say that, please," said Lord Warburton, very gravely. 
" That is fair to neither of us." 

" To marry a worse one, then." 

" K there are better women than you, then I prefer the bad 
ones ; that's all I can say," he went on, with the same gravity. 
" There is no accounting for tastes." 

His gravity made her feel equally grave, and she showed it 
by again requesting him to drop the subject for the present. 
" I will speak to you myself, very soon," she said. " Perhaps 
I shall write to you." 

" At your convenience, yes," he answered. " Whatever time 
you take, it must seem to me long, and I suppose I must make 
the best of that." 

" I shall not keep you in suspense ; I only want to collect 
my mind a little." 



140 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

He gave a melancholy sigh and stood looking at her a 
moment, with his hands behind him, giving short nervous 
shakes to his hunting-whip. " Do you know I am very much 
afraid of it — of that mind of yours 1 " 

Our heroine's biographer can scarcely tell why, but the 
question made her start and brought a conscious blush to her 
cheek. She returned his look a moment, and then, with a note 
in her voice that might almost have appealed to his compassion 
— " So am I, my lord ! " she exclaimed. 

His compassion was not stirred, however ; all that he possessed 
of the faculty of pity was needed at home. " Ah ! be merciful, 
be merciful," he murmured. 

^* I think you had better go," said Isabel. " I will write to you." 

" Very good ; but whatever you write, I will come and see 
you." And then he stood reflecting, with his eyes fixed on the 
observant countenance of Bunchie, who had the air of having 
understood all that had been said, and of pretending to carry 
oft* the indiscretion by a simulated fit of curiosity as to the roots 
of an ancient beech. "There is one thing more," said Lord 
Warburton. " You know, if you don't like Lockleigh — if you 
think it's damp, or anything of that sort — you need never go 
within fifty miles of it. It is not damp, by the way ; I have 
had the house thoroughly examined ; it is perfectly sanitary. 
But if you shouldn't fancy it, you needn't dream of living in it. 
There is no difficulty whatever about that ; there are plenty of 
houses. I thought I would just mention it; some people don't 
like a moat, you know. Good-bye." 

" I delight in a moat," said Isabel. " Good-bye." 

He held out his hand, and she gave him hers a moment 
— a moment long enough for him to bend his head and 
kiss it. Then, shaking his hunting-whip with little quick 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 141 

strokes, he walked rapidly away. He was evidently very 
nervous. 

Isabel herself was nervous, but she was not affected as she 
would have imagined. What she felt was not a great responsi- 
bility, a great difficulty of choice ; for it appeared to her that 
there was no choice in the question. She could not marry Lord 
Warburton; the idea failed to correspond to any vision of 
happiness that she had hitherto entertained, or was now capable 
of entertaining. She must write this to him, she must convince 
him, and this duty was comparatively simple. But what 
disturbed her, in the sense that it struck her with wonderment, 
was this very fact that it cost her so little to refuse a great 
opportunity. With whatever qualifications one would. Lord 
Warburton had offered her a great opportunity; the situation 
might have discomforts, might contain elements that would 
displease her, but she did her sex no injustice in believing that 
nineteen women out of twenty would accommodate themselves 
to it with extreme zeal. Why then upon her also should it not 
impose itself 1 Who was she, what was she, that she should 
hold herself superior? What view of life, what design upon 
fate, what conception of happiness, had she that pretended to be 
larger than this large occasion 1 If she would not do this, then 
she must do great things, she must do something greater. Poor 
Isabel found occasion to remind herself from time to time that 
she must not be too proud, and nothing could be more sincere 
than her prayer to be delivered from such a danger; for the 
isolation and loneliness of pride had for her mind the horror 
of a desert place. If it were pride that interfered with her 
accepting Lord Warburton, it was singularly misplaced ; and she 
was so conscious of liking him that she ventured to assure 
herself it was not. She liked him too much to marry him, that 



142 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

•was the point; something told her that she should not be 
satisfied, and to inflict upon a man who offered so much a 
wife with a tendency to criticise Vould be a peculiarly discredit- 
able act. She had promised him that she would consider 
his proposal, and when, after he had left her, she wandered 
back to the bench where he had found her, and lost herself 
in meditation, it might have seemed that she was keeping her 
word. But this was not the case ; she was wondering whether 
she were not a cold, hard girl; and when at last she got up 
and rather quickly went back to the house, it was because, 
as she had said to Lord Warburton, she was really frightened 
at herself. 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 143 



XIII. 

It was this feeling, and not the wish to ask advice — she had 
no desire whatever for that — that led her to speak to her uncle 
of what Lord Warburton had said to her. She wished to speak 
to some one ; she should feel more natural, more human, and her 
uncle, for this purpose, presented himself in a more attractive 
light than either her aunt or her friend Henrietta. Her cousin, 
of course, was a possible confidant; but it would have been 
disagreeable to her to confide this particular matter to Ealph. 
So, the next day, after breakfast, she sought her occasion. Her 
uncle never left his apartment till the afternoon ; but he received 
his cronies, as he said, in his dressing-room. Isabel had quite 
taken her place in the class so designated, which, for the rest, 
included the old man's son, his physician, his personal servant, 
and even Miss Stackpole. Mrs. Touchett did not figure in the 
list, and this was an obstacle the less to Isabel's finding her 
uncle alone. He sat in a complicated mechanical chair, at the 
open window of his room, looking westward over the park and 
the river, with his newspapers and letters piled up beside him, 
his toilet freshly and minutely made, and his smooth, speculative 
face composed to benevolent expectation. 

Isabel approached her point very directly. " I think I ought 
to let you know that Lord Warburton has asked me to marry 



144 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

him. I suppose I ought to tell my aunt ; but it seems best to 
tell you first." 

The old man expressed no surprise, but thanked her for the 
confidence she showed him. " Do you mind telling me whether 
you accepted him ? " he added. 

"I have not answered him definitely yet; I have taken ^a 
little time to think of it, because that seems more respectful. 
But I shall not accept him." 

Mr. Touchett made no comment upon this ; he had the air of 
thinking that whatever interest he might take in the matter 
from the point of view of sociability, he had no active voice 
in it. "Well, I told you you would be a success over here. 
Americans are highly appreciated." 

"Very highly indeed," said Isabel "But at the cost of 
seeming ungrateful, 1 don't think I can marry Lord Warburton." 

"Well," her uncle went on, "of course an old man can't 
judge for a young lady. I am glad you didn't ask me before 
you made up your mind. I suppose I ought to tell you," he 
added slowly, but as if it were not of much consequence, " that 
I have known all about it these three days." 

" About Lord Warburton's state of mind 1 " 

" About his intentions, as they say here. He wrote me a very 
pleasant letter, telling me all about them. Should you like to 
see it 1 " the old man asked, obligingly. 

"Thank you; I don't think I care about that. But I am 
glad he wrote to you ; it was right that he should, and he would 
be certain to do what was right." 

" Ah, well, I guess you do like him ! " Mr. Touchett declared. 
" You needn't pretend you don't." 

*^ I like him extremely ; I am very free to admit that. But I 
don't wish to marry any one just now." 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 145 



"You think some one ^lay come along whom you may 
like better. Well, that's very likely," said Mr. Touchett, who 
appeared to wish to show his: kindness to the girl hy easing off 
her decision, as it were, and finding cheerful reasons for it. 

" I don't care if I don't meet any one else ; I like Lord 
Warburton quite well enough," said Isabel, with that appearance 
of a sudden change of point of view with which she sometimes 
startled and even displeased her interlocutors. 

Her uncle, however, seemed proof against either of these 
sensations. 

" He's a very fine man," he resumed, in a tone which might 
have passed for that of encouragement. " His letter was one of 
the pleasantest letters I have received in some weeks. I suppose 
one of the reasons I liked it was that it was all about you ; that 
is, all except the part which was about himself. I suppose he 
told you all that." 

" He would have told me everything I wished to ask him," 
Isabel said. 

" But you didn't feel curious ? " 

" My curiosity would have been idle — once I had determined 
to decline his offer." 

"You didn't find it sufficiently attractive 1" Mr. Touchett 
inquired. 

The girl was silent a moment. 

"I suppose it was that," she presently admitted. "But I 
don't know why." 

" Fortunately, ladies are not obliged to give reasons," said her 
uncle. "There's a great deal that's attractive about such an 
idea ; but I don't see why the English should want to entice us 
away from our native land. I know that we try to attract them 
over there; but that's because our population is insufficient. 

VOL. I. L 



146 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

Here, you know, they are rather crowded. However, I suppose 
there is room for charming young ladies everywhere." 

" There seems to have been room here for you," said Isabel, 
whose eyes had been wandering over the large pleasure-spaces of 
the park. 

Mr. Touchett gave a shrewd, conscious smile. 

" There is room everywhere, my dear, if you will pay for it. 
I sometimes think I have paid too much for this. Perhaps you 
also might have to pay too much." 

" Perhaps I might,'' the girl replied. 

This suggestion gave her something more definite to rest upon 
than she had found in her own thoughts, and the fact of her 
uncle's genial shrewdness being associated with her dilemma 
seemed to prove to her that she was concerned with the natural 
and reasonable emotions of life, and not altogether a victim to 
intellectual eagerness and vague ambitions — ambitions reaching 
beyond Lord Warburton's handsome offer to something inde- 
finable and possibly not commendable. In so far as the 
indefinable had an influence upon Isabel's behaviour at this 
juncture, it was not the conception, however unformulated, of 
a union with Caspar Goodwood ; for however little she might 
have felt warranted in lending a receptive ear to her English 
suitor, she was at least as far removed from the disposition to 
let the young man from Boston take complete possession of her. 
The sentiment in which she ultimately took refuge, after reading 
his letter, was a critical view of his having come abroad ; for 
it was part of the influence he had upon her that he seemed 
to take from her the sense of freedom. There was something 
too forcible, something oppressive and restrictive, in the manner 
in which he presented himself. She had been haunted at 
moments by the image of his disapproval, and she had wondered 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 147 

— a consideration she had never paid in one equal degree to any 
one else — whether he would like what she did. The difl&culty 
was that more than any man she had ever known, more than 
poor Lord Warburton (she had begun now to give his lordship 
the benefit of this epithet), Caspar Goodwood gave her an 
impression of energy. She might like it or not, but at any 
rate there was something very strong about him ; even in one's 
usual contact with him one had to reckon with it. The idea of 
a diminished liberty was particularly disagreeable to Isabel at 
present, because it seemed to her that she had just given a sort 
of personal accent to her independence by making up her mind 
to refuse Lord Warburton. Sometimes Caspar Goodwood had 
seemed to range himself on the side of her destiny, to be the 
stubbornest fact she knew ; she said to herself at such moments 
that she might evade him for a time, but that she must make 
terms with him at last — terms which would be certain to be 
favourable to himself. Her impulse had been to avail herself of 
the things that helped her to resist such an obligation ; and this 
impulse had been much concerned in her eager acceptance of her 
aunt's invitation, which had come to her at a time when she 
expected from day to day to see Mr. Goodwood, and when she 
was glad to have an answer ready for something she was sure he 
woTild say to her. When she had told him at Albany, on the 
evening of Mrs. Touchett's visit, that she could not now discuss 
difficult questions, because she was preoccupied with the idea of 
going to Europe with her aunt, he declared that this was no 
answer at all ; and it was to obtain a better one that he followed 
her across the seas. To say to herself that he was a kind of 
fate was well enough for a fanciful young woman, who was able 
to take much for granted in him ; but the reader has a right to 
demand a description less metaphysical. 

L 2 



148 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

He was the son of a proprietor of certain well-known cotton- 
mills in Massachusetts — a gentleman who had accumulated a 
considerahle fortune in the exercise of this industry. Caspar 
now managed the establishment, with a judgment and a brilliancy 
which, in spite of keen competition and languid years, had kept 
its prosperity from dwindling. He had received the better part 
of his education at Harvard University, where, however, he had 
gained more renown as a gymnast and an oarsman than as a 
votary of culture. Later, he had become reconciled to culture, 
and though he was still fond of sport, he was capable of showing 
an excellent understanding of other matters. He had a remark- 
able aptitude for mechanics, and had invented an improvement 
in the cotton-spinning process, which was now largely used and 
was known by his name. You might have seen his name in 
the papers in connection with this fruitful contrivance ; assur- 
ance of which he had given to Isabel by showing her in the 
columns of the New York Interviewer an exhaustive article on 
the Goodwood patent — an article not prepared by Miss Stackpole, 
friendly as she had proved herself to his more sentimental 
interests. He had great talent for business, for administration^ 
and for making people execute his purpose and carry out his 
views — for managing men, as the phrase was ; and to give its 
complete value to this faculty, he had an insatiable, an almost 
fierce, ambition. It always struck people who knew him that 
he might do greater things than carry on a cotton-factory ; there 
was nothing cottony about Caspar Goodwood, and his friends 
took for granted that he would not always content himself with 
that. He had once said to Isabel that, if the United States 
were only not such a confoundedly peaceful nation, he would 
find his proper place in the army. He keenly regretted that 
the Civil War should have terminated just as he had grown old 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 149 

enough to wear shoulder-straps, and was sure that if something 
of the same kind would only occur again, he would make a 
display of striking militarj' talent. It pleased Isahel to believe 
that he had the qualities of a famous captain, and she answered 
that, if it would help him on, she shouldn't object to a war — 
a speech which ranked -among the three or four most encouraging 
ones he had elicited from her, and of which the value was not 
diminished by her subsequent regret at having said anything so 
heartless, inasmuch as she never communicated this regret to 
him. She liked at any rate this idea of his being potentially a 
commander of men — liked it much better than some other points 
in his character and appearance. She cared nothing about his 
cotton-mill, and the Goodwood patent left her imagination 
absolutely cold. She wished him not an inch less a man than 
he was ; but she sometimes thought he would be rather nicer if 
he looked, for instance, a little differently. His jaw was too 
square and grim, and his figure too straight and stiff; these 
things suggested a want of easy adaptability to some of the 
occasions of life. Then she regarded with disfavour a habit he 
had of dressing always in the same manner ; it was not appar- 
ently that he wore the same clothes continually, for, on the 
contrary, his garments had a way of looking rather too new. 
But they all seemed to be made of the same piece ; the pattern, 
the cut, was in every case identical. She had reminded herself 
more than once that this was a frivolous objection to a man of 
Mr. Goodwood's importance; and then she had amended the 
rebuke by saying that it would be a frivolous objection if she 
were in love with him. She was not in love with him, and 
therefore she might criticise his small defects as well as his great 
ones — which latter consisted in the collective reproach of his 
being too serious, or, rather, not of his being too serious, for one 



160 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

could never be that, but of his seeming so. He showed his 
seriousness too simply, too artlessly ; when one was alone with 
him he talked too much about the same subject, and when other 
people were present he talked too little about anything. And 
yet he was the strongest man she had ever known, and she 
believed that at bottom he was the cleverest It was very 
strange; she was far from understanding the contradictions 
among her own impressions. Caspar Goodwood had never 
corresponded to her idea of a delightful person, and she supposed 
that this was why he was so unsatisfactory. When, however, 
Lord Warburton, who not only did correspond with it, but gave 
an extension to the term, appealed to her approval, she found 
herself still unsatisfied. It was certainly strange. 

Such incongruities were not a help to answering Mr. Good- 
wood's letter, and Isabel determined to leave it a while unanswered. 
If he had determined to persecute her, he must take the conse- 
quences ; foremost among which was his being left to perceive 
that she did not approve of his coming to Gardencourt. She 
was already liable to the incursions of one suitor at this place, 
and though it might be pleasant to be appreciated in opposite 
quarters, Isabel had a personal shrinking from entertaining 
two lovers at once, even in a case where the entertainment 
should consist of dismissing them. She sent no answer to 
Mr. Goodwood ; but at the end of three days she wrote to Lord 
Warburton, and the letter belongs to our history. It ran as 
follows. 

" Dear Lord Warburton — A great deal of careful reflection 
has not led me to change my mind about the suggestion you 
were so kind as to make me the other day. I do not find myself 
able to regard you in the light of a husband, or to regard your 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 151 

home — your various homes — in the light of my own. These 
things cannot he reasoned ahout, and I very earnestly entreat 
you not to return to the suhject we discussed so exhaustively. 
We see our lives from our own point of view ; that is the privi- 
lege of the weakest and humblest of us ; and I shall never be 
able to see mine in the manner you proposed. Kindly let this 
suffice you, and do me the justice to believe that I have given 
your proposal the deeply respectful consideration it deserves. 
It is with this feeling of respect that I remain very truly 
yours, 

"Isabel Archer." 

While the author of this missive was making up her mind to 
despatch it, Henrietta Stackpole formed a resolution which was 
accompanied by no hesitation. She invited Kalph Touchett to 
take a walk with her in the garden, and when he had assented 
with that alacrity which seemed constantly to testify to his high 
expectations, she informed him that she had a favour to ask of 
him. It may be confided to the reader that at this information 
the young man flinched ; for we know that Miss Stackpole had 
struck him as indiscreet. The movement was unreasonable, 
however ; for he had measured the limits of her discretion as 
little as he had explored its extent ; and he made a very civil 
profession of the desire to serve her. He was afraid of her, and 
he presently told her so. 

" When you look at me in a certain way," he said, " my knees 
knock together, my faculties desert me ; I am filled with trepid- 
ation, and I ask only for strength to execute your commands. 
You have a look which I have never encountered in any 
woman." 

" WeU," Henrietta replied, good-humouredly, " if I had not 



152 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

known before that you were trying to turn me into ridicule, I 
should know it now. Of course I am easy game — I was brought 
up with such different customs and ideas. I am not used to 
your arbitrary standards, and I have never been spoken to in 
America as you have spoken to me. If a gentleman conversing 
with me over there, were to speak to me like that, I shouldn't 
know what to make of it. We take everything more naturally 
over there, and, after all, we are a great deal more simple. 
I admit that ; I am very simple myself. Of course, if you choose 
to laugh at me for that, you are very welcome; but I think 
on the whole I would rather be myself than you. I am quite 
content to be myself; I don't want to change. There are plenty 
of people that appreciate me just as I am ; it is true they are 
only Americans ! " Henrietta had lately taken up the tone of 
helpless innocence and large concession. " I want you to assist 
me a little," she went on. "I don't care in the least whether I 
amuse you while you do so ; or, rather, I am perfectly wOling 
that your amusement should be your reward. I want you to 
help me about Isabel." 

" Has she injured you 1 " Kalph asked. 

" If she had I shouldn't mind, and I should never tell you. 
What I am afraid of is that she will injure herself." 

" I think that is very possible," said Ealph. 

His companion stopped in the garden-walk, fixing on him a 
gaze which may perhaps have contained the quality that caused 
his knees to knock together. " That, too, would amuse you, I 
suppose. The way you do say things I I never heard any one 
so indifferent." 

" To Isabel 1 Never in the world." 

" Well, you are not in love with her, I hope." 

" How can that be, when I am in love with another 1 " 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 153 



" You are in love with yourself, that's the other ! " Miss 
Stackpole declared. " Much good may it do you ! But if you 
wish to be serious once in your life, here's a chance ; and if you 
really care for your cousin, here is an opportunity to prove it. I 
don't expect you to understand her ; that's too much to ask. 
But you needn't do that to grant my favour. I will supply the 
necessary intelligence." 

*' I shall enjoy that immensely ! " Ralph exclaimed. " I will 
be Caliban, and you shall be Ariel." 

" You are not at all like Caliban, because you are sophisti- 
cated, and Caliban was not. But I am not talking about 
imaginary characters ; I am talking about Isabel. Isabel is 
intensely real. What I wish to tell you is that I find her 
fearfully changed." 

" Since you came, do you mean ? " 

" Since I came, and before I came. She is not the same as 
she was." 

" As she was in America 1 " 

" Yes, in America. I suppose you know that she comes from 
there. She can't help it, but she does." 

** Do you want to change her back again ? " 

" Of course I do ; and I want you to help me." 

" Ah," said Ralph, " I am only Caliban ; I am not Prospero." 

" You were Prospero enough to make her what she has 
become. You have acted on Isabel Archer since she came here, 
Mr. Touchett." 

"I, my dear Miss Stackpole? Never in the world. Isabel 
Archer has acted on me — ^yes ; she acts on every one. But I 
have been absolutely passive." 

" You are too passive, then. You had better stir yourself and 
be caref uL Isabel is changing every day ; she is drifting away — 



154 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

right out to sea. I have watched her and I can see it. She is 
not the bright American girl she was. She is taking different 
views, and turning away from her old ideals. I want to save 
those ideals, Mr. Touchett, and that is where you come in." 

" Kot surely as an ideal 1 " 

" Well, I hope not," Henrietta replied, promptly. " I have 
got a fear in my heart that she is going to marry one of these 
Europeans, and I want to prevent it." 

" Ah, I see," cried Ealph ; " and to prevent it, you want me 
to step in and marry her ^ " 

" Not quite ; that remedy would be as bad as the disease, for 
you are the typical European from whom I wish to rescue her. 
No ; I wish you to take an interest in another person — a young 
man to whom she once gave great encouragement, and whom she 
now doesn't seem to think good enough. He's a noble feUow, 
and a very dear friend of mine, and I wish very much you 
would invite him to pay a visit here." 

Ealph was much puzzled by this appeal, and it is perhaps not 
to the credit of his purity of mind that he failed to look at it at 
first in the simplest light. It wore, to his eyes, a tortuous air, 
and his fault was that he was not quite sure that anything in the 
world could really be as candid as this request of Miss Stack- 
pole's appeared. That a young woman should demand that a 
gentleman whom she described as her very dear friend should 
be furnished with an opportunity to make himself agreeable to 
another young woman, whose attention had wandered and whose 
charms were greater — ^this was an anomaly which for the moment 
challenged all his ingenuity of interpretation. To read between 
the lines was easier than to follow the text, and to suppose that 
Miss Stackpole wished the gentleman invited to Gardencourt on 
her own account was the sign not so much of a vulgar, as of an 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 155 

embarrassed, mind. Even from this venial act of vulgarity, 
however, Ralph was saved, and saved by a force that I can 
scarcely call anything less than inspiration. With no more out- 
ward light on the subject than he already possessed, he suddenly 
acquired the conviction that it would be a sovereign injustice to 
the correspondent of the Interviewer to assign a dishonourable 
motive to any act of hers. This conviction passed into his mind 
with extreme rapidity; it was perhaps kindled by the pure 
radiance of the young lady's imperturbable gaze. He returned 
this gaze a moment, consciously, resisting an inclination to frown, 
as one frowns in the presence of larger luminaries. " Who is 
the gentleman you speak of] " 

"Mr. Caspar Goodwood, from Boston.- He has been extremely 
attentive to Isabel — just as devoted to her as he can live. He 
has followed her out here, and he is at present in London. I 
don't know his address, but I guess I can obtain it." 

" I have never heard of him," said Ralph. 

" Well, I suppose you haven't heard of every one. I don't 
believe he has ever heard of you ; but that is no reason why 
Isabel shouldn't marry him." 

Ralph gave a small laugh. **What a rage you have for 
marrying people ! Do you remember how you wanted to marry 
me the other day ? " 

" I have got over that. You don't know how to take such 
ideas. Mr. Goodwood does, however ; and that's what I like 
about him. He's a splendid man and a perfect gentleman : and 
Isabel knows it." 

" Is she very fond of him 1 " 

" If she isn't she ought to be. He is simply wrapped up in 
her." 

" And you wish me to ask him here," said Ralph, reflectively. 



156 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" It would be an act of true hospitality." 

" Caspar Goodwood," Kalph continued — " it's rather a striking 
name." 

" I don't care anything about his name. It might be Ezekiel 
Jenkins, and I should say the same. He is the only man I have 
ever seen whom I think worthy of IsabeL" 

" You are a very devoted friend," said Ealph. 

" Of course I am. If you say that to laugh at me, I 
don't care." 

" I don't say it to laugh at you ; I am very much struck 
with it." 

" You are laughing worse than ever ; but I advise you not to 
laugh at Mr. Goodwood." 

" I assure you I am very serious ; you ought to understand 
that," said Ealph. 

In a moment his companion understood it. "I believe you 
are ; now you are too serious." 

" You are difficult to please." 

" Oh, you are very serious indeed. You won't invite Mr. 
Goodwood." 

" I don't know," said Ealph. " I am capable of strange 
things. Tell me a little about Mr. Goodwood. What is he 
like ] " 

"He is just the opposite of you. He is at the head of a 
cotton factory ; a very fine one." 

" Has he pleasant manners ] " asked Ealph. 

" Splendid manners — in the American style." 

" "Would he be an agreeable member of our little circle 1 " 

" I don't think he would care much about our little circle. 
He would concentrate on IsabeL" 

" And how would my cousin like that 1 '* 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 157 

" Very possibly not at aU. But it will be good for her. It 
will call back her thoughts." 

" Call them back — from where 1 " 

"From foreign parts and other unnatural places. Three 
months ago she gave Mr. Goodwood every reason to suppose 
that he was acceptable to her, and it is not worthy of Isabel to 
turn her back upon a real friend simply because she has changed 
the scene. I have changed the scene too, and the effect of it 
has been to make me care more for my old associations than 
ever. Ifs my belief that the sooner Isabel changes it back again 
the better. I know her well enough to know that she would 
never be truly happy over here, and I wish her to form some 
strong American tie that will act as a preservative." 

" Are you not a little too much in a hurry ] " Ealph inquired. 
** Don't you think you ought to give her more of a chance in 
poor old England?" 

" A chance to ruin her bright young life ] One is never too much 
in a hurry to save a precious human creature from drowning." 

** As I understand it, then," said Ealph, " you wish me to 
push Mr. Goodwood overboard after her. Do you know," he 
added, " that I have never heard her mention his name 1 " 

Henrietta Stackpole gave a brilliant smile. " I am delighted 
to hear that ; it proves how much she thinks of him." 

Ealph appeared to admit that there was a good deal in this, 
and he surrendered himself to meditation, while his companion 
watched him askance. " If I should invite Mr. Goodwood," he 
said, " it would be to quarrel with him." 

" Don't do that ; he would prove the better man." 

" You certainly are doing your best to make me hate him ! I 
really don't think I can ask him. I should be afraid of being 
rude to him." 



158 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" It* 8 just as you please," said Henrietta. "I had no idea 
you were in love with her yourself." 

" Do you really believe that ] " the young man asked, with 
lifted eyebrows. 

" That's the most natural speech I have ever heard you make ! 
Of course I believe it," Miss Stackpole answered, ingeniously. 

" Well," said Ealph, " to prove to you that you are wrong, I 
will invite him. It must be, of course, as a friend of yours." 

" It will not be as a friend of mine that he will come ; and it 
will not be to prove to me that I am wrong that you will ask 
him — but to prove it to yourself ! " 

These last words of Miss Stackpole' s (on which the two pre- 
sently separated) contained an amount of truth which Ralph 
Touchett was obliged to recognise ; but it so far took the edge 
from too sharp a recognition that, in spite of his suspecting that 
it would be rather more indiscreet to keep his promise than it 
would be to break it, he wrote Mr. Goodwood a note of six lines, 
expressing the pleasure it would give Mr. Touchett the elder that 
he should join a little party at Gardencourt, of which Miss 
Stackpole was a valued member. Having sent his letter (to the 
care of a banker whom Henrietta suggested) he waited in some 
suspense. He had heard of Mr. Caspar Goodwood by name for 
the first time ; for when his mother mentioned to him on her 
arrival that there was a story about the girl's having an 
" admirer " at home, the idea seemed deficient in reality, and 
Ralph took no pains to ask questions, the answers to which 
would suggest only the vague or the disagreeable. Now, how- 
ever, the native admiration of which his cousin was the object 
had become more concrete ; it took the form of a yoimg man 
who had followed her to London; who was interested in a 
cotton-mill, and had manners in the American style. Ralph had 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 159 

two theories about this young man. Either his passion was a 
sentimental fiction of Miss Stackpole's (there was always a sort 
of tacit understanding among women, born of the solidarity of 
the sex, that they should discover or invent lovers for each 
other), in which case he was not to be feared, and would pro- 
bably not accept the invitation ; or else he would accept the 
invitation, and in this event would prove himself a creature too 
irrational to demand further consideration. The latter clause of 
Ralph's argument might have seemed incoherent ; but it em- 
bodied his conviction, that if Mr. Goodwood were interested in 
Isabel in the serious manner described by Miss Stackpole, he 
would not care to present himself at Gardencourt on a summons 
from the latter lady. " On this supposition," said Ralph, " he 
must regard her as a thorn on the stem of his rose ; as an inter- 
cessor he must find her wanting in tact.*' 

Two days after he had sent his invitation he received a very 
short note from Caspar Goodwood, thanking him for it, regret- 
ting that other engagements made a visit to Gardencourt impos- 
sible, and presenting many compliments to Miss Stackpole. 
Ralph handed the note to Henrietta, who, when she had read it, 
exclaimed — 

" Well, I never have heard of anything so stiff ! " 

" I am afraid he doesn't care so much about my cousin as you 
suppose," Ralph observed. 

" No, it's not that ; it's some deeper motive. His nature is 
very deep. But I am determined to fathom it, and I will write 
to him to know what he means." 

His refusal of Ralph's overtures made this young man vaguely 
uncomfortable ; from the moment he declined to come to Garden- 
court Ralph began to think him of importance. He asked him- 
self what it signified to him whether Isabel's admirers should be 



160 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

desperadoes or laggards ; they were not rivals of his, and were 
perfectly welcome to act out their genius. Nevertheless he felt 
much curiosity as to the result of Miss Stackpole's promised 
inquiry into the causes of Mr. Goodwood's stiffness — a curiosity 
for the present ungratified, inasmuch as when he asked her 
three days later whether she had written to London, she was 
obliged to confess that she had written in vain. Mr. Goodwood 
had not answered her. 

" I suppose he is thinking it over,'* she said ; " he thinks 
everything over ; he is not at all impulsive. But I am accus- 
tomed to having my letters answered the s^me day." 

Whether it was to pursue her investigations, or whether it was 
in compliance with still larger interests, is a point which remains 
somewhat uncertaiu ; at all events, she presently proposed to 
Isabel that they should make an excursion to London together. 

" If I must tell the truth," she said, " I am not seeing much 
at this place, and I shouldn't think you were either. I have not 
even seen that aristocrat — what's his name ? — Lord "Washburton. 
He seems to let you severely alone." 

" Lord Warburton is coming to-morrow, I happen to know," 
replied Isabel, who had received a note from the master of Lock- 
leigh in answer to her own letter. "You will have every 
opportunity of examining him." 

" Well, he may do for one letter, but what is one letter when 
you want to write fifty 1 I have described all the scenery in this 
vicinity, and raved about all the old women and donkeys. You 
may say what you please, scenery makes a thin letter. I must 
go back to London and get some impressions of real life. I was 
there but three days before I came away, and that is hardly time 
to get started." 

As Isabel, on her journey from New York to Gardencourt, had 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 161 

seen even less of the metropolis than this, it appeared a happy- 
suggestion of Henrietta's that the two should go thither on a 
visit of pleasure. The idea struck Isabel as charming ; she had 
a great desire to see something of London, which had always 
been the city of her imagination. They turned over their scheme 
together and indulged in visions of aesthetic hours. They would 
stay at some picturesque old inn — one of the inns described by 
Dickens — ^and drive over the town in those delightful hansoms. 
Henrietta was a literary woman, 6ind the great advantage of being 
a literary woman was that you could go everywhere and do 
everything. They would dine at a coffee-house, and go after- 
wards to the play; they would frequent the Abbey and the 
British Museum, and find out where Doctor Johnson had -lived, 
and Goldsmith and Addison. Isabel grew eager, and presently 
mentioned these bright intentions to Ralph, who burst into a 
fit of laughter, which did not express the sympathy she had 
desired. 

" It's a delightful plan," he said. " I advise you to go to the 
Tavistock Hotel in Covent Garden, an easy, informal, old- 
fashioned place, and I will have you put down at my club." 

**Do you mean it's improper 1" Isabel asked. "Dear me, 
isn't anything proper here ? With Henrietta, surely I may go 
anywhere ; she isn't hampered in that way. She has travelled 
over the whole American continent, and she can surely find her 
way about this simple little island." 

" Ah, then," said Ralph, " let me take advantage of her pro- 
tection to go up to town as well. I may never have a chance to 
travel so safely ! " 



VOL. I. M 



162 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



XIV. 



Miss Staokpolb would have prepared to start for London 
immediately ; but Isabel, as we have seen, had been notified that 
Lord Warburton would come again to Gardencourt, and she 
believed it to be her duty to remain there and see him. For four 
or five days he had made no answer to her letter ; then he had 
written, very briefly, to say that he would come to lunch two 
days later. There was something in these delays and postpone- 
ments that touched the girl, and renewed her sense of his desire 
to be considerate and patient, not to appear to urge her too 
grossly ; a discretion the more striking that she was so sure he 
really liked her. Isabel told her uncle that she had written to 
him, and let Mr. Touchett know of Lord Warburton' s intention 
of coming ; and the old man, in consequence, left his room earlier 
than usual, and made his appearance at the lunch-table. This 
was by no means an act of vigilance on his part, but the fruit of 
a benevolent beHef that his being of the company might help to 
cover the visitor's temporary absence, in case Isabel should find 
it needful to give Lord Warburton another hearing. This per- 
sonage drove over from Lockleigh, and brought the elder of his 
sisters with him, a measure presumably dictated by considerations 
of the same order as Mr. Touchett's. The two visitors were 
introduced to Miss Stackpole, who, at luncheon, occupied a seat 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 163 

adjoining Lord Warburton's. Isabel, who was nervous, and had 
no relish of the prospect of again arguing the question he had so 
precipitately opened, could not help admiring his good-humoured 
self-possession, which quite disguised the symptoms of that 
admiration it was natural she should suppose him to feel. He 
neither looked at her nor spoke to her, and the only sign of his 
emotion was that he avoided meeting her eye. He had plenty 
of talk for the others, however, and he appeared to eat his 
luncheon with discrimination and appetite. Miss Molyneux, 
who had a smooth, nun-like forehead, and wore a large silver 
cross suspended from her neck, was evidently preoccupied with 
Henrietta Stackpole, upon whom her eyes constantly rested in a 
manner which seemed to denote a conflict between attention and 
alienation. Of the two ladies from Lockleigh, she was the one 
that Isabel had liked best ; there was such a world of hereditary 
quiet in her. Isabel was sure, moreover, that her mild forehead 
and:SLlver cross had a romantic meaning — that she was a mem- 
ber of a High Church sisterhood, had taken some picturesque 
vows. She wondered what Miss Molyneux would think of her 
if she knew Miss Archer had refused her brother ; and then she 
felt sure that Miss Molyneux would never know — that Lord 
Warburton never told her such things. He was fond of her and 
kind to her, but on the whole he told her little. Such, at least, 
was Isabel's theory ; when, at table, she was** not occupied in 
conversation, she was usually occupied in forming theories about 
her neighbours. According to Isabel, if Miss Molyneux should 
ever learn what had passed between Miss Archer and Lord 
Warburton, she would probably be shocked at the young lady'3 
indifiference to such an opportunity ; or no, rather (this was 
our heroine's last impression) she would impute to the young 
American a high sense of general fitness. 

H 2 



164 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

Whatever Isabel might have made of her opportunities, 
Henrietta Stackpole was by no means disposed to neglect those 
in which she now found herself immersed. 

'*Do you know you are the first lord I have ever seen?" she 
said, very promptly, to her neighbour. " I suppose you think I 
am awfully benighted." 

" You have escaped seeing some very ugly men," Lord 
Warburton answered, looking vaguely about the table and 
laughing a little. 

"Are they very ugly? They try to make us believe in 
America that they are all handsome and magnificent, and that 
they wear wonderful robes and crowns." 

" Ah, the robes and crowns have gone out of fashion," said 
Lord Warburton, " like your tomahawks and revolvers." 

"I am sorry for that; I think an aristocracy ought to be 
splendid," Henrietta declared. "If it is not that, what is 
it?" 

" Oh, you know, it isn't much, at the best," Lord Warburton 
answered. " Won't you have a potato ? " 

" I don't care much for these European potatoes. I shouldn't 
know you from an ordinary American gentleman." 

" Do talk to me as if I were one," said Lord Warburton. 
** I don't see how you manage to get on without potatoes ; you 
must find so few things to eat over here." 

Henrietta was silent a moment ; there was a chance that he 
was not sincere. 

" I have had hardly any appetite since I have been here," she 
went on at last ; " so it doesn't much matter. I don't approve 
of yoUy you know ; I feel as if I ought to tell you that." 

" Don't approve of me ? " 

" Yes, I don't suppose any one ever said such a thing to you 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 165 

before, did they 1 I don't approve of lords, as an institution. 
I think the world has got beyond that — far beyond." 

" Oh, so do I. I don't approve of myself in the least. 
Sometimes it comes over me — how I should object to myself if 
I were not myself, don't you know 1 But that's rather good, by 
the way — not to be vainglorious." 

'* Why don't you give it up, then?" Miss Stackpole inquired. 

" Give up — a — ^ " asked Lord Warburton, meeting her harsh 
inflection with a very mellow one. 

" Give up being a lord." 

" Oh, I am so little of one ! One would really forget all 
about it, if you wretched Americans were not constantly remind- 
ing one. However, I do think of giving up — the little there is 
left of it — one of these days." 

" I should like to see you do it," Henrietta exclaimed, rather 
grimly. 

" I will invite you to the ceremony ; we will have a supper 
and a dance." 

" Well," said Miss Stackpole, " I like to see all sides. I 
don't approve of a privileged class, but I like to hear what they 
have got to say for themselves." 

" Mighty little, as you see ! " 

"I should like to draw you out a little more," Henrietta 
continued. " But you are always looking away. You are 
afraid of meeting my eye. I see you want to escape me." 

" No, I am only looking for those despised potatoes." 

" Please explain about that young lady — your sister — then. 
I don't understand about her. Is she a Lady 1 " 

" She's a capital good girl." 

"I don't like the way you say that — ^as if you wanted to 
change the subject. Is her position inferior to yours 1 " 



166 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" We neither of us have any position to speak of ; but she is 
better ofif than I, because she has none of the bother." 

" Yes, she doesn*t look as if she had much bother. I wish I 
had as little bother as that. You do produce quiet people 
over here, whatever you may do.*' 

" Ah, you see one takes life easUy, on the whole," said Lord 
Warburton. " And then you know we are very dull. Ah, we 
can be dull when we try ! " 

**I should advise you to try something else. I shouldn't 
know what to talk to your sister about ; she looks so different. 
Is that silver cross a badge ? " 

"A badge ]" 

" A sign of rank." 

Lord Warburton' s glance had wandered a good deal, but at 
this it met the gaze of his neighbour. 

"Oh, yes," he answered, in a moment; "the women go in 
for those things. The silver cross is worn by the eldest 
daughters of Yiscounts." 

This was his harmless revenge for having occasionally had 
his credulity too easily engaged in America. 

After lunch he proposed to Isabel to come into the gallery 
and look at the pictures; and though she knew that he had 
seen the pictures twenty times, she complied without criticising 
this pretext. Her conscience now was very easy ; ever since 
she sent him her letter she had felt particularly light of spirit. 
He walked slowly to the end of the gallery, staring at the 
paintings and saying nothing; and then he suddenly broke 
out — 

" I hoped you wouldn't write to me that way." 

" It was the only way, Lord Warburton," said the girL ** Do 
try and believe that." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 167 

" If I could believe it, of course I should let you alone. But 
we can't believe by willing it; and I confess I don't understand. 
I could understand your disliking me ; that I could understand 
welL But that you should admit what you do " 

"What have I admitted]" Isabel interrupted, blushing a 
little. 

" That you think me a good fellow ; isn't that it 1 " She 
said nothing, and he went on — " You don't seem to have any 
reason, and that gives me a sense of injustice." 

" I have a reason. Lord Warburton," said the girl ; and she 
said it in a tone that made his heart contract. 

** I should like very much to know it." 

" I will tell you some day when there is more to show for it." 

" Excuse my saying that in the meantime I must doubt of 
it." 

" You make me very unhappy," said Isabel 

" I am not sorry for that ; it may help you to know how I 
feel. Will you kindly answer me a question 1 " Isabel made 
no audible assent, but he apparently saw something in her eyes 
which gave him courage to go on. " Do you prefer some one 
elsel" 

"That's a question I would rather not answer." 

" Ah, you do then I " her suitor murmured with bitterness. 

The bitterness touched her, and she cried out — 

" You are mistaken ! I don't." 

He sat down on a bench, unceremoniously, doggedly, like a 
man in trouble; leaning his elbows on his knees and staring 
at the floor. 

"I can't even be glad of that," he said at last, throwing 
himself back against the wall, " for that would be an excuse." 

Isabel raised her eyebrows, with a certain eagerness. 



168 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" An excuse 1 Must I excuse myself] " 

He paid, however, no answer to the question. Another idea 
had come into his head. 

" Is it my political opinions 1 Do you think I go too 
far 1 " 

" I can't object to your political opinions, Lord Warburton," 
said the girl, " because I don't understand them.'* 

" You don't care what I think," he cried, getting up. ** It's 
all the same to you." 

Isabel walked away, to the other side of the gallery, and 
stood there, showing him her charming back, her light slim 
figure, the length of her white neck as she bent her head, and 
the density of her dark braids. She stopped in front of a small 
picture, as if for the purpose of examining it ; and there was 
something young and flexible in her movement, which her 
companion noticed. Isabel's eyes, however, saw nothing; they 
had suddenly been suffused with tears. In a moment he fol- 
lowed her, and by this time she had brushed her tears away ; 
but when she turned round, her face was pale, and the expression 
of her eyes was strange. 

" That reason that I wouldn't tell you," she said, ** I will tell 
it yon, after all. It is that I can't escape my fate." 

"Your fate]" 

" I should try to escape it if I should marry you." 

" I don't understand. Why should not that be your fate, as 
well as anything else 1 " 

" Because it is not," said Isabel, femininely. " I know it is 
not. It's not my fate to give up — I know it can't be." 

Poor Lord "Warburton stared, with an interrogative point in 
either eye. 

" Do you call marrying me giving up 1 " 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 169 

" Not in the usual sense. It is getting — getting — getting a 
great deal. But it is giving up other chances." 

Other chances 1 " Lord "Warburton repeated, more and more 
puzzled. 

" I don't mean chances to marry/' said Isabel, her colour 
rapidly coming back to her. And then she stooped down with 
a deep frown, as if it were hopeless to attempt to make her 
meaning clear. 

" I don't think it is presumptuous in me to say that I think 
you will gain more than you will lose," Lord Warburton 
observed. 

" I can't escape unhappiness," said Isabel. " In marrying 
you, I shall be trying to." 

" I don't know whether you would try to, but you certainly 
would : that I must in candour admit ! " Lord Warburton 
exclaimed, with an anxious laugh. 

" I must not — I can't ! " cried the girl. 

" Well, if you are bent on being miserable, I don't see why 
you should make me so. Whatever charms unhappiness may 
have for you, it has none for me." 

" I am not bent on being miserable," said Isabel. " I Imve 
always been intensely determined to be happy, and I have orten 
believed I should be. I have told people that ; you can ask 
them. But it comes over me every now and then that I can 
never be happy in any extraordinary way ; not by turning 
away, by separating myself." 

" By separating yourself from what 1 " 

" From life. From the usual chances and dangers, from what 
most people know and suffer." 

Lord Warburton broke into a smile that almost denoted hape. 

" Why, my dear Miss Archer," he began to explain, with the 



170 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

most considerate eagerness, " I don't offer you any exoneration 
from life, or from any chances or dangers whatever. I wish. I 
conld; depend upon it I would ! For what do you take me, pray 1 
Heaven help me, I am not the Emperor of China ! All I offer 
you is the chance of taking the common lot in a comfortable sort 
of way. The common lot 1 Why, I am devoted to the common 
lot ! Strike an alliance with me, and I promise you that you 
shall have plenty of it. You shall separate from nothing what- 
ever — not even from your friend Miss Stackpole." 

" She would never approve of it," said Isabel, trying to smile 
and take advantage of this side-issue ; despising herseK too, not 
a little, for doing so. 

"Are we speaking of Miss Stackpolel" Lord Warburton 
asked, impatiently. " I never saw a person judge things on 
such theoretic grounds." 

" Now I suppose you are speaking of me," said Isabel, with 
humility; and she turned away again, for she saw Miss 
Molyneux enter the gallery, accompanied by Henrietta and 
by Ealph. 

Lord Warburton's sister addressed him with a certain timidity, 
and reminded him that she ought to return home in time for tea, 
as she was expecting some company. He made no answer — 
apparently not having heard her; he was preoccupied — with 
good reason. Miss Molyneux looked lady-like and patient, and 
awaited his pleasure. 

" Well, I never. Miss Molyneux ! " said Henrietta Stackpole. 
" If I wanted to go, he would have to go. If I wanted my 
brother to do a thing, he would have to do it." 

" Oh, Warburton does everything one wants," Miss Molyneux 
answered, with a quick, shy laugh. " How very many pictures 
you have ! " she went on, turning to Ealph. 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 171 

" They look a good many, because they are all put together," 
said Ralph. " But it's really a bad way." 

" Oh, I think it's so nice. I wish we had a gallery at Lock- 
leigh. I am so very fond of pictures," Miss Molyneux went on, 
persistently, to Ralph, as if she were afraid that Miss Stackpole 
would address her again. Henrietta appeared at once to fascinate 
and to frighten her. 

" Oh yes, pictures are very indispensable," said Ralph, who 
appeared to know better what style of reflection was acceptable 
to her. 

" They are so very pleasant when it rains," the young lady 
continued. " It rains so very often." 

"I am sorry you are going away, Lord "Warburton," said 
Henrietta. " I wanted to get a great deal more out of you." 

" I am not going away," Lord Warburton answered. 

" Your sister says you must. In America the gentlemen obey 
the ladies." 

" I am afraid we have got some people to tea," said Miss 
Molyneux, looking at her brother. 

" Yery good, my dear. We'll go." 

" I hoped you would resist ! " Henrietta exclaimed. " I 
wanted to see what Miss Molyneux would do." 

" I never do anything," said this young lady. 

** I suppose in your position it's sufficient for you to exist ! " 
Miss Stackpole rejoined. " I should like very much to see you 
at home." 

" You must come to Lockleigh again," said Miss Molyneux, 
very sweetly, to Isabel, ignoring this remark of IsabePs friend. 

Isabel looked into her quiet eyes a moment, and for that 
moment seemed to see in their grey depths the reflection of 
everything she had rejected in rejecting Lord Warburton — ^the 



172 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

peace, the kindness, the honour, the possessions, a deep security 
and a great exclusion. She kissed Miss Molyneux, and then 
she said — 

" I am afraid I can never come again." 

" Never again 1 '* 

" I am afraid I am going away." 

" Oh, I am so very sorry," said Miss Molyneux. " I think 
that's so very wrong of you." 

Lord Warburton watched this little passage ; then he turned 
away and stared at a picture. Kalph, leaning against the rail 
before the picture, with his hands in his pockets, had for the 
moment been watching him. 

" I should like to see you at home," said Henrietta, whom 
Lord Warburton found beside him. " I should like an hour's 
talk with you ; there are a great many questions I wish to ask 
you." 

" I shall be delighted to see you," the proprietor of Lockleigh 
answered ; " but I am certain not to be able to answer many of 
your questions. Wlien will you come ? " 

" Whenever Miss Archer will take me. We are thinking of 
going to London, but we will go and see you first. I am 
determined to get some satisfaction out of you." 

"If it depends upon Miss Archer, I am afraid you won't get 
much. She will not come to Lockleigh ; she doesn't like the place." 

" She told me it was lovely ! " said Henrietta. 

Lord Warburton hesitated a moment. 

" She won't come, all the same. You had better come alone," 
he added. 

Henrietta straightened herself, and her large eyes expanded. 

"Would you make that remark to an English ladyl" she 
inquired, with soft asperity. 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 173 

Lord Warburton stared. 

" Yes, if I liked her enough." 

"You would be careful not to like her enough. If Miss 
Archer won't visit your place again, it's because she doesn't 
want to take me. I know what she thinks of me, and I 
suppose you think the same — that I oughtn't to bring in 
individuals." 

Lord Warburton was at a loss ; he had not been made 
acquainted with Miss Stackpole's professional character, and did 
not catch her allusion. 

" Miss Archer has been warning you ! " she went on. 

** Warning me 1 " 

" Isn't that why she came off alone with you here — to put 
you on your guard 1 " 

" Oh, dear no," said Lord Warburton, blushing ; " our talk 
had no such solemn character as that." 

" Well, you have been on your guard — intensely. I suppose 
it's natural to you ; that's just what I wanted to observe. And 
so, too. Miss Molyneux — she wouldn't commit herself. You 
have been warned, anyway," Henrietta continued, addressing 
this young lady, " but for you it wasn't necessary." 

" I hope not," said Miss Molyneux, vaguely. 

" Miss Stackpole takes notes," Ralph explained, humorously. 
" She is a great satirist ; she sees through us all, and she works 
us up." 

" WeU,' I must say I never have had such a collection of bad 
material ! " Henrietta declared, looking from Isabel to Lord 
Warburton, and from this nobleman to his sister and to Ralph. 
** There is something the matter with you all; you are as dismal 
as if you had got a bad telegram." 

" You do see through us, Miss Stackpole," said Ralph in a 



174 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

low tone, giving her a little intelligent nod, as he led the 
party out of the galleiy. " There is something the matter with 
us all." 

Isabel came behind these two; Miss Molyneux, who decidedly 
liked her immensely, had taken her arm, to walk beside her 
over the polished floor. Lord Warburton strolled on the other 
side, with his hands behind him, and his eyes lowered. For 
some moments he said nothing ; and then — 

" Is it true that you are going to London 1 " he asked. 

" I believe it has been arranged." 

" And when shall you come back 1 " 

" In a few days ; but probably for a very short time. I am 
going to Paris with my aunt." 

" When, then, shall I see you again 1 " 

" Not for a good while," said Isabel ; " but some day or 
other, I hope." 

" Do you really hope it 1 " 

"Very much." 

He went a few steps in silence ; then he stopped, and put 
out his hand. 

" Good-bye." 

" Good-bye," said Isabel. 

Miss Molyneux kissed her again, and she let the two depart ; 
after which, without rejoining Henrietta and Ealph, she re- 
treated to her own room. 

In this apartment, before dinner, she was found by Mrs. 
Touchett, who had stopped on her way to the drawing- 
room. 

" I may as well tell you," said her aunt, " that your uncle has 
informed me of your relations with Lord Warburton." 

Isabel hesitated an instant. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 175 

" Relations 1 They are hardly relations. That is the strange 
part of it ; he has seen me but three or four times." 

"Why did you tell your uncle rather than me]" Mrs. 
Touchett inquired, dryly, but dispassionately. 

Again Isabel hesitated. 

" Because he knows Lord Warburton better." 

" Yes, but I know you better." 

" I am not sure of that," said Isabel, smiling. 

" Neither am I, after all ; especially when you smile that 
way. One would think you had carried off a prize ! I suppose 
that when you refuse an offer like Lord Warburton*s it*s 
because you expect to do something better." 

"Ah, my uncle didn't say that !" cried Isabel, smiling stilL 



176 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



XV. 

It had been arranged that the two young ladies should proceed 
to London under Ealph's escort, though Mrs. Touchett looked 
with little favour upon the plan. It was just the sort of plan, 
she said, that Miss Stackpole would be sure to suggest, and she 
inquired if the correspondent of the Intei'viewer was to take the 
party to stay at a boarding-house. 

" I don't care where she takes us to stay, so long as there is 
local colour," said Isabel "That is what we are going to 
London for." 

" I suppose that after a girl has refused an English lord she 
may do anything," her aunt rejoined. " After that one needn't 
stand on trifles." 

" Should you have liked me to marry Lord Warburton ? " 
Isabel inquired. 

" Of course I should." 

" I thought you disliked the English so much." 

" So I do ; but it's all the more reason for making use of 
them." 

" Is that your idea of marriage 1 " And Isabel ventured to 
add that her aunt appeared to her to have made very little use 
of Mr. Touchett. 

" Your uncle is not an English nobleman," said Mrs. Touchett, 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 177 

" though even if he had been, I should still probably have taken 
up my residence in Florence." 

**Do you think Lord Warburton could make me any better 
than I am ? " the girl asked, with some animation. " I 
don't mean that I am too good to improve. I mean — I 
mean that I don't love Lord Warburton enough to marry 
hun." 

" You did right to refuse him, then," said Mrs. Touchett, in 
her little spare voice. " Only, the next great offer you get, I 
hope you will manage to come up to your standard." 

"We had better wait till the offer comes, before we talk 
about it. I hope very much that I may have no more offers for 
the present. They bother me fearfully." 

" You probably won't be troubled with them if you adopt 
permanently the Bohemian manner of life. However, I have 
promised Ealph not to criticise the affair." 

" I will do whatever Ealph says is right," Isabel said. "I 
have unbounded confidence in Ralph." 

** His mother is much obliged to you ! " cried this lady, with 
a laugL 

" It seems to me she ought to be," Isabel rejoined, smiling. 

Kalph had assured her that there would be no violation of 
decency in their paying a visit — the little party of three — to the 
sights of the metropolis ; but Mrs. Touchett took a different 
view. Like many ladies of her country who have lived a long 
time in Europe, she had completely lost her native tact on such 
points, and in her reaction, not in itself deplorable, against 
the liberty allowed to young persons beyond the seas, had fallen 
into gratuitous and exaggerated scruples. Ralph accompanied 
the two young ladies to town and established them at a quiet 
inn in a street that ran at right angles to Piccadilly. His first 

VOL. I. N 



178 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

idea had been to take them to his father's house in Winchester 
Square, a large, dull mansion, which at this period of the year 
was shrouded in silence and brown hoUand ; but he bethought 
himself that, the cook being at Gardencourt, there was no one 
in the house to get them their meals ; and Pratt's Hotel accord- 
ingly became their resting-place. Ralph, on his side, found 
quarters in Winchester Square, having a " den " there of which 
he was very fond, and not being dependent on the local cuisine. 
He avaUed himself largely indeed of that of Pratt's Hotel, 
beginning his day with an early visit to his fellow-travellers, 
who had Mr. Pratt in person, in a large bulging white waistcoat, 
to remove their dish-covers. Ealph turned up, as he said, after 
breakfast, and the little party made out a scheme of entertain- 
ment for the day. As London does not wear in the month 
of September its most brilliant face, the young man, who 
occasionally took an apologetic tone, was obliged to remind his 
companion, to Miss Stackpole's high irritation, that there was 
not a creature in town. 

"I suppose you mean that the aristocracy are absent," Hen- 
rietta answered ; " but I don't think you could have a better 
proof that if they were absent altogether they would not be 
missed. It seems to me the place is about as full as it can be. 
There is no one here, of course, except three or four millions of 
people. What is it you call them — the lower-middle class % 
They are only the population of London, and that is of no 
consequence." 

Ralph declared that for him the aristocracy left no void that 
Miss Stackpole herself did not fill, and that a more contented 
man was nowhere at that moment to be found. In this he 
spoke the truth, for the stale September days, in the huge half- 
empty town, borrowed a charm from his circumstances. When 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 179 



he went home at night to the empty hou8e in Winchester Square, 
after a day spent with his inquisitive countrywomen, he wandered 
into the big dusky dining-room, where the candle he took from 
the hall-table, after letting himself in, constituted the only 
illumination. The square was still, the house was still ; when 
he raised one of the windows of the dining-room to let in the 
air, he heard the slow creak of the boots of a solitary policeman. 
His own step, in the empty room, seemed loud and sonorous ; 
some of the carpets had been raised, and whenever he moved he 
roused a melancholy echo. He sat down in one of the arm- 
chairs ; the big, dark, dining table twinkled here and there in 
the small candle-light ; the pictures on the wall, all of them 
very brown, looked vague and incoherent. There was a ghostly 
presence in the room, as of dinners long since digested, of table- 
talk that had lost its actuality. This hint of the supernatural 
perhaps had something to do with the fact that Ealph's imagin- 
ation took a flight, and that he remained in his chair a long time 
beyond the hour at which he should have been in bed ; doing 
nothing, not even reading the evening paper. I say he did 
nothing, and I maintain the phrase in the face of the fact that 
he thought at these moments of Isabel. To think of Isabel 
could only be for Ralph an idle pursuit, leading to nothing and 
profiting little to any one. His cousin had not yet seemed to 
him so charming as during these days spent in sounding, tourist- 
fashion, the deeps and shallows of the metropolitan element. 
Isabel was constantly interested and often excited ; if she had 
come in search of local colour she found it everywhere. She 
asked more questions than he could answer, and launched little 
theories that he was equally unable to accept or to refute. The 
party went more than once to the British Museum, and to tliat 
brighter palace of art which reclaims for antique variety so large 

K 2 



180 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

an area of a monotonous suburb ; they spent a morning in the 
Abbey and went on a penny-steamer to the Tower ; they looked 
at pictures both in public and private collections, and sat on 
various occasions beneath the great trees in Kensington Gardens. 
Henrietta Stackpole proved to be an indefatigable sight-seer and 
a more good-natured critic than Ealph had ventured to hope. 
She had indeed many disappointments, and London at large 
suffered from her vivid remembrance of many of the cities of 
her native land ; but she made the best of its dingy peculiarities 
and only heaved an occasional sigh, and uttered a desultory 
" Well ! " which led no further and lost itself in retrospect. 
The 'truth was that, as she said herself, she was not in her 
element. " I have not a sympathy "with inanimate objects," she 
remarked to Isabel at the National Gallery ; and she continued 
to suffer from the meagreness of the glimpse that had as yet been 
vouchsafed to her of the inner life. Landscapes by Turner and 
Assyrian bulls were a poor substitute for the literary dinner- 
parties at which she had hoped to meet the genius and renown 
of Great Britain. 

" Where are your public men, where are your men and women 
of intellect 1 " she inquired of Ealph, standing in the middle of 
Trafalgar Square, as if she had supposed this to be a place where 
she would naturally meet a few. " That's one of them on the 
top of the column, you say — Lord Nelson ] Was he a lord too 1 
Wasn't he high enough, that they had to stick him a hundred 
feet in the air 1 That's the past — I don't care about the past ; 
I want to see some of the leading minds of the present. I won't 
say of the future, because I don't believe much in your future." 
Poor Ealph had few leading minds among his acquaintance, and 
rarely enjoyed the pleasure of button-holding a celebrity; a 
state of things which appeared to Miss Stackpole to indicate a 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 181 

deplorable want of enterprise. " If I were on the other side I 
should call," she said, "and tell the gentleman, whoever he 
might be, that I had heard a great deal about him and had come 
to see for myself. But I gather from what you say that this is 
not the custom here. You seem to have plenty of meaningless 
customs, and none of those that one really wants. We are in 
advance, certainly. I suppose I shall have to give up^the social 
side altogether ; " and Henrietta, though she went about with her 
guide-book and pencil, and wrote a letter to the Interviewer about 
the Tower (in which she described the execution of Lady Jane 
Grey), had a depressing sense of falling below her own standard. 

The incident which had preceded Isabel's departure from 
Gardencourt left a painful trace in the girl's mind; she took 
no pleasure in recalling Lord Warburton's magnanimous dis- 
appointment. She could not have done less than what she 
did ; this was certainly true. But her necessity, all the same, 
had been a distasteful one, and she felt no desire to take 
credit for her conduct. Nevertheless, mingled with this ab- 
sence of ^an intellectual relish of it, was a feeling of freedom 
which in itself was sweet, and which, as she wandered through 
the great city with her ill-matched companions, occasionally 
throbbed into joyous excitement. When she walked in Ken- 
sington Gardens, she stopped the children (mainly of the poorer 
sort) whom she saw playing on the grass ; she asked them their 
names and gave them sixpence, and when they were pretty she 
kissed them. Ealph noticed such incidents ; he noticed every- 
thing that Isabel did. 

One afternoon, by way of amusing his companions, he invited 
them to tea in Winchester Square, and he had the house set in 
order as much as possible, to do honour to their visit. There 
was another guest, also, to meet the ladies, an amiable bachelor, 



182 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



an old friend of Ealph's, who happened to be in town, and who 
got on uncommonly well with Miss Stackpole. Mr. Bantling, a 
stout, fair, smiling man of forty, who was extraordinarily well 
dressed, and whose contributions to the conversation were 
characterised by vivacity rather than continuity, laughed immo- 
derately at everything Henrietta said, gave her several cups of 
tea, examined in her society the bric-d-brac, of which Ralph had 
a considerable collection, and afterwards, when the host proposed 
they should go out into the square and pretend it was a fete- 
champetre, walked round the limited inclosure several times with 
her and listened with candid interest to her remarks upon the 
inner life. 

" Oh, I see," said Mr. Bantling ; " I daresay you found it very 
quiet at Gardencourt. Naturally there's not much going on 
there when there's such a lot of illness about. Touchett's very 
bad, you know ; the doctors have forbid his being in England at 
all, and he has only come back to take care of his father. The 
old man, I believe, has half-a-dozen things the matter with him. 
They call it gout, but to my certain knowledge he is dropsical 
as well, though he doesn't look it. You may depend upon it he 
has got a lot of water somewhere. Of course that sort of thing 
makes it awfully slow for people in the house ; I wonder they 
have them under such circumstances. Then I believe Mr. 
Touchett is always squabbling with his wife ; she lives away 
from her husband, you know, in that extraordinary American 
way of yours. If you want a house where there is always 
something going on, I recommend you to go down and stay with 
my sister. Lady Pensil, in Bedfordshire. I'll write to her 
to-morrow, and I am sure she'll be delighted to ask you. I 
know just what you want — you want a house where they go in 
for theatricals and picnics and that sort of thing. My sister is 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 183 

just that sort of woman; she is always getting up something or 
other, and she is always glad to have the sort of people that help 
her. I am sure she'll ask you down by return of post ; she is 
tremendously fond of distinguished people and writers. She 
writes herself, you know ; but I haven't read everything she has 
written. It's usually poetry, and I don't go in much for poetry 
— unless it's Byron. I suppose you think a great deal of Byron 
in America," Mr. Bantling continued, expanding in the stimu- 
lating air of Miss Stackpole's attention, bringing up his sequences 
promptly, and at last changing his topic, with a natural eagerness 
to provide suitable conversation for so remarkable a woman. 
He returned, however, ultimately to the idea of Henrietta's 
going to stay with Lady Pensil, in Bedfordshire. " I understand 
what you want," he repeated ; " you want to see some genuine 
English sport. The Touchetts are not English at all, you 
know; they live on a kind of foreign system; they have got 
some awfully queer ideas. The old man thinks it's wicked to 
hunt, I am told. You must get down to my sister's in time for 
the theatricals, and I am sure she will be glad to give you a 
part. I am sure you act well ; I know you are very clever. 
My sister is forty years old, and she has seven children ; but she 
is going to play the principal part. Of course you needn't act if 
you don't want to." 

In this manner Mr. Bantling delivered himself, while they 
strolled over the grass in Winchester Square, which, although it 
had been peppered by the London soot, invited the tread to 
linger. Henrietta thought her blooming, easy-voiced bachelor, 
with his impressibility to feminine merit and his suggestiveness 
of allusion, a very agreeable man, and she valued the opportunity 
he offered her. 

" I don't know but I would go, if your sister should ask me," 



184 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

she said. " I think it would be my duty. What do you call 
her name 1 " 

"Pensil. It's an odd name, but it isn't a bad one." 

"I think one name is as good as another. But what is her 
rank "? " 

" Oh, she's a baron's wife; a convenient sort of rank. You 
are fine enough, and you are not too fine." 

" I don't know but what she'd be too fine for me. What do 
you call the place she lives in — Bedfordshire ? " 

" She lives away in the northern corner of it. It's a tiresome 
country, but I daresay you won't mind it. FU try and run down 
while you are there." 

All this was very pleasant to Miss Stackpole, and she was 
sorry to be obliged to separate from Lady Pensil's obliging 
brother. But it happened that she had met the day before, in 
Piccadilly, some friends whom she had not seen for a year ; the 
Miss Climbers, two ladies from Wilmington, Delaware, who had 
been travelling on the continent and were now preparing to 
re-embark. Henrietta had a long interview with them on the 
Piccadilly pavement, and though the three ladies all talked at 
once, they had not exhausted their accumulated topics. It had 
been agreed therefore that Henrietta should come and dine with 
them in their lodgings in Jermyn Street at six o'clock on the 
morrow, and she now bethought herself of this engagement. 
She prepared to start for Jermyn Street, taking leave first of 
Ealph Touchett and Isabel, who, seated on garden chairs in 
another part of the inclosure, were occupied — if the term may 
be used — with an exchange of amenities less pointed than the 
practical colloquy of Miss Stackpole and Mr. I5antling. When 
it had been settled between Isabisl and her friend that they 
should be re-united at some reputable hour at Pratt's Hotel, 



THE PORTRAIT OF A lADY. 186 



Ealph remarked that the latter must have a cab. She could not 
walk all the way to Jermyn Street. 

" I suppose you mean it's improper for me to walk alone ! " 

Henrietta exclaimed. " Merciful powers, have I come to this *? " 

" There is not the slightest need of your walking alone," said 

Mr. Bantling, in an off-hand tone expressive of gallantry. " I 

should be greatly pleased to go with you." 

" I simply meant that you would be late for dinner," Ealph 
answered. " Think of those poor ladies, in their impatience, 
waiting for you." 

" You had better have a hansom, Henrietta," said Isabel. 
" I will get you a hansom, if you will trust to me," Mr. 
Bantling wentjon. " We might walk a little till we met one." 

" I don't see why I shouldn't trust to him, do you 1 " Henrietta 
inquired of Isabel 

** I don't see what Mr. Bantling could do to you," Isabel 
answered, smiling ; *' but if you like, we will walk with you till 
you find your cab." 

*' Never mind ; we will go alone. Come on, Mr. Bantling, 
and take care you get me a good one." 

Mr. Bantling promised to do his best, and the two took their 
departure, leaving Isabel and her cousin standing in the square, 
over which a clear September twilight had now begun to gather. 
It was perfectly still; the wide quadrangle of dusky houses 
showed lights in none of the windows, where the shutters and 
blinds were closed ; the pavements were a vacant expanse, and 
putting aside two small children from a neighbouring slum, who, 
attracted by symptoms of abnormal animation in the interior, 
were squeezing their necks between the rusty railings of the 
inclosure, the most vivid object within sight was the big red 
pillar-post on the south-east corner. 



186 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" Henrietta will ask him to get into the cab and go with her 
to Jermyn Street," Kalph observed. He always spoke of Miss 
Stackpole as Henrietta. 

" Very possibly," said his companion. 

" Or rather, no, she won't," he went on. " But Bantling will 
ask leave to get in." 

"Very likely again. I am very glad they are such good 
friends." 

" She has made a conquest. He thinks her a brilliant woman. 
It may go far," said Kalph. 

Isabel was silent a moment. 

" I call Henrietta a very brilliant woman ; but I don*t think 
it will go far," she rejoined at last. " They would never really 
know each other. He has not the least idea what she really is, 
and she has no just comprehension of Mr. Bantling." 

" There is no more usual basis of matrimony than a mutual 
misunderstanding. But it ought not to be so difficult to under- 
stand Bob Bantling," Ealph added. " He is a very simple 
fellow.'' 

" Yes, but Henrietta is simpler still. And pray, what am I 
to do'? "Isabel asked, looking about' her through the fading light, 
in which the limited landscape-gardening of the square took on 
a large and eflfective appearance. "I don't imagine that you 
will propose that you and I, for our amusement, should drive 
about London in a hansom." 

"There is no reason why we should not stay here — if 
you don't dislike it. It is very warm; there will be half- 
an-hour yet before dark ; and if you permit it, I will light a 
cigarette." 

" You may do what you please," said Isabel, " if you will 
amuse me till seven o'clock. I propose at that hour to go back 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 187 



and partake of a simple and solitary repast — two poached eggs 
and a muffin — at Pratt's Hotel." 

" May I not dine with you ] " Ralph asked. 

" No, you will dine at your club." 

They had wandered back to their chairs in the centre of the 
square again, and Ralph had lighted his cigarette. It would 
have given him extreme pleasure to be present in person at the 
modest little feast she had sketched ; but in default of this he 
liked even being forbidden. For the moment, however, he liked 
immensely being alone with her, in the thickening dusk, in 
the centre of the multitudinous town; it made her seem to 
depend upon him and to be in his power. This power he 
could exert but vaguely ; the best exercise of it was to accept 
her decisions submissively. There wa& almost an emotion in 
doing so. 

"Why won't you let me dine with you*?" he asked, after a 
pause. 

" Because I dou't care for it." 

" I suppose you are tired of me." 

** I shall be an hour hence. You see I have the gift of 
fore-knowledge." 

" Oh, I shall be delightful meanwhile," said Ralph. But he 
said nothing more, and as Isabel made no rejoinder, they sat 
some time in silence which seemed to contradict his promise of 
entertainment. It seemed to him that she was preoccupied, 
and he wondered what she was thinking about ; there were two 
or three very possible subjects. At last he spoke again. " Is 
your objection to my society this evening caused by your 
expectation of another visitor 1 " 

She turned her head with a glance of her clear, fair eyes. 

" Another visitor ? What visitor should I have ? " 



188 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

He had none to suggest ; which made his question seem to 
" himseK silly as well as brutal. 

" You have a great many friends that I don't know," he said, 
laughing a little awkwardly. "You have a whole past from 
which I was perversely excluded." 

" You were reserved for my future. You must remember 
that my past is over there across the water. There is none of 
it here in London." 

" Very good, then, since your future is seated beside you. 
Capital thing to have your future so handy." And Ealph 
lighted another cigarette and reflected that Isabel probably 
meant that she had received news that Mr. Caspar Goodwood 
had crossed to Paris. After he had lighted his cigarette he 
puffed it a while, and then he went on. " I promised a while 
ago to be very amusing ; but you see I don't come up to the 
mark, and the fact is there is a good deal of temerity in my 
undertaking to amuse a person like you. What do you care for 
my feeble attempts] You have grand ideas — you have a high 
standard in such matters. I ought at least to bring in a band 
of music or a company of mountebanks." 

" One mountebank is enough, and you do very well. 
Pray go on, and in another ten minutes I shall begin to 
laugh." 

" I assure you that I am very serious," said Ealph. " You 
do reaUy ask a great deal" 

" I don't know what you mean. I ask nothing ! " 

" You accept nothing," said Ealph. She coloured, and now 
suddenly it seemed to her that she guessed his meaning. But 
why should he speak to her of such things 1 He hesitated a 
little, and then he continued. " There is something I should 
like very much to say to you. It's a question I wish to ask. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 189 

It seems to me I have a right to ask it, because I have a kind 
of interest in the answer." 

" Ask what you will," Isabel answered gently, " and I will 
try and satisfy you." 

" Well, then, I hope you won't mind my saying that Lord 
Warburton has told me of something that has passed between 
you." 

Isabel started a little; she sat looking at her open fan. 
* Very good ; I suppose it was natural he should tell you." 

" I have his leave to let you know he has done so. He has 
some hope still," said Kalph. 

"StiUI" 

" He had it a few days ago." 

" I don't believe he has any now," said the giiL 

" I am very sorry for him, then ; he is such a fine fellow." 

" Pray, did he ask you to talk to me 1 " 

" 'No, not that. But he told me because he couldn't help it. 
We are old friends, and he was greatly disappointed. He sent 
me a line asking me to come and see him, and I rode over to 
Lockleigh the day before he and his sister lunched with us. 
He was very heavy-hearted; he had just got a letter from 
you." 

" Did he show you the letter 1 " asked Isabel, with momentary 
loftiness. 

" By no means. But he told me it was ^a neat refusal. I 
was very sorry for him," Ralph repeated. 

For some moments Isabel said nothing ; then at last, " Do 
you know how often he had seen me ? Five or six times." 

** That's to your glory." 

" It's not for that I say it." 

"What then do you say it fori Not to prove that poor 



190 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

Warburton's state of mind is superficial, because I am pretty- 
sure you don't think that." 

Isabel certainly was unable to say that she thought it ; but 
presently she said something else. " If you have not been 
requested by Lord Warburton to argue with me, then you are 
doing it disinterestedly — or for the love of argument.'' 

** I have no wish to argue with you at all. I only wish to 
leave you alone. I am simply greatly interested in your own 
sentiments." 

" I am greatly obliged to you ! " cried Isabel, with a laugh. 

" Of course you mean that I am meddling in what doesn't 
concern me. But why shouldn't I speak to you of this matter 
without annoying you or embarrassing myself 1 What's the use 
of being your cousin, if I can't have a few privileges 1 What 
is the use of adoring you without the hope of a reward, if I 
can't have a few compensations 1 What is the use of being ill 
and disabled, and restricted to mere spectatorship at the game 
of life, if I really can't see the show when I have paid so much 
for my ticket] Tell me this," Ealph went on, while Isabel 
listened to him with quickened attention : " What had you in 
your mind, when you refused Lord Warburton]" 

« What had I in my mind ] " 

"What was the logic — the view of your situation — that 
dictated so remarkable an act 1 " 

" I didn't wish to marry him — if that is logic." 

" No, that is not logic — and I knew that before. What was 
it you said to yourself] You certainly said more than that." 

Isabel reflected a moment and then she answered this inquiry 
with a question of her own. " Why do you call it a remarkable 
act] That is what your mother thinks, too." 

*' Warburton is such a fine fellow ; as a man I think he has 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. IPl 

hardly a fault. And then, he is what they call here a swell. 
He has immense possessions, and his wife would be thought 
a superior being. He unites the intrinsic and the extrinsic 
advantages." 

Isabel watched her cousin while he spoke, as if to see how 
far he would go. " I refused him because he was too perfect 
then. I am not perfect myself, and he is too good for me. 
Besides, his perfection would irritate me.'* 

" That is ingenious rather than candid," said Ralph. " As a 
fact, you think nothing in the world too perfect for you." 

" Do I think I am so good 1 " 

" No, but you are exacting, all the same, without the excuse 
of thinking yourself good. Nineteen women out of twenty, 
however, even of the most exacting sort, would have contented 
themselves with Warburton. Perhaps you don't know how he 
has been run after." 

*'I don't wish to know. But it seems to me," said Isabel, 
" that you told me of several faults that he has, one day when 
I spoke of him to you." 

Ralph looked grave. ''I hope that what I said then had no 
weight with you ; for they were not faults, the things I spoke 
of ; they were simply peculiarities of his position. If I had 
known he wished to marry you, I would never have alluded 
to them. I think I said that as regards that position he was 
rather a sceptic. It would have been in your power to make 
him a believer." 

" I think not. I don't understand the matter, and I am not 
conscious of any mission of that sort. — You are evidently dis- 
appointed," Isabel added, looking gently but earnestly at her 
cousin. ** You would have liked me to marry Lord Warburton." 

** Not in the least. I am absolutely without a wish on the 



192 THE PORTRAIT OF k LADY. 

subject. I don't pretend to advise you, and I content myself 
with watching you — ^with the deepest interest.*' 

Isabel gave a rather conscious sigh. " I wish I could be 
as interesting to myself as I am to you ! " 

" There you are not candid again ; you are extremely interest- 
ing to yourself. Do you know, however," said Ealph, " that 
if you have really given Lord Warburton his final answer, I am 
rather glad it has been what it was. I don't mean I am glad for 
you, and still less, of course, for him. I am glad for myself." 

" Are you thinking of proposing to me 1 " 

"By no means. From the point of view I speak of that 
would be fatal ; I should kill the goose that supplies me with 
golden eggs. I use that animal as a symbol of my insane illu- 
sions. What I mean is, I shall have the entertainment of seeing 
what a young lady does who won't marry Lord Warburton." 

" That is what your mother counts upon too," said IsabeL 

"Ah, there will be plenty of spectators ! We shall contem- 
plate the rest of your career. I shall not see all of it, but I 
shall probably see the most interesting years. Of course, if you 
were to marry our friend, you would still have a career — a very 
honourable and brilliant one. But relatively speaking, it would 
be a little prosaic. It would be definitely marked out in 
advance ; it would be wanting in the unexpected. You know 
I am extremely fond of the unexpected, and now that you have 
kept the game in your hands I depend on your giving us some 
magnificent example of it." 

" I don't understand you very well," said Isabel, " but I do so 
woU enough to be able to say that if you look for magnificent 
examples of anything I shall disappoint you." 

" You will do so only by disappointing yourself — ^and that 
will go hard with you ! " 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 193 

To this Isabel made no direct reply ; there was an amount 
of truth in it which would bear consideration. At last she said, 
abruptly — ** I don't see what harm there is in my wishing not to 
tie myself. I don't want to begin life by marrying. There are 
other things a woman can do.*' 

" There is nothing she can do so well. But you are many- 
sided." 

" If one is two-sided, it is enough," said Isabel. 

" You are the most charming of polygons ! " Ealph broke out, 
with a laugh. At a glance from his companion, however, he 
became grave, and to prove it he went on — " You want to see 
life, as the young men say." 

" I don't think I want to see it as the young men want to see 
it ; but I do want to look about me." 

" You want to drain the cup of experience." 

" No, I don't wish to touch the cup of experience. It's a 
poisoned drink ! I only want to see for myself." 

" You want to see, but not to feel," said Ealph. 

" I don't think that if one is a sentient being, one can make 
the distinction," Isabel returned. "I am a good deal like 
Henrietta. The other day, when I asked her if she wished to 
maiTy, she said — * Not till I have seen Europe 1 ' I too don't 
wish to marry until I have seen Europe." 

" You evidently expect that a crowned head will be struck 
with you." 

" No, that would be worse than marrying Lord "Warburton. 

But it is getting very dark," Isabel continued, " and I must go 

home." She rose from her place, but Ralph sat still a moment, 

looking at her. As he did not follow her, she stopped, and they 

remained a while exchanging a gaze, full on either side, but 

especially on Ealph's, of utterances too vague for words. 
VOL. I. o 



194 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

"You have answered my question," said Ealph at last. 
"You have told me what I wanted. I am greatly obliged to 
you." 

" It seems to me I have told you very little." 

" You have told me the great thing : that the world interests 
you and that you want to throw yoin-self into it." 

Isabel's silvery eyes shone for a moment in the darkness. 
" I never said that." 

" I think you meant it. Don't repudiate it ; it*s so fine ! " 

" I don't know what you are trying to fasten upon me, for I 
am not in the least an adventurous spirit. Women are not like 
men." 

Ealph slowly rose from his seat, and they walked together to 
the gate of the square. " No," he said ; " women rarely boast 
of their courage ; men do so with a certain frequency." 

" Men have it to boast of ! " 

" Women have it too ; you have a great deal." 

" Enough to go home in a cab to Pratt's Hotel ; but not more." 

Ealph unlocked the gate, and after they had passed out he 
fastened it. 

"We will find your cab," he said; and as they turned 
towards a neighbouring street in which it seemed that this 
quest would be fruitful, he asked her again if he might not see 
her safely to the inn. 

"By no means," she answered; "you are very tired; you 
must go home and go to bed." 

The cab was found, and he helped her into it, standing a 
moment at the door. 

" When people forget I am a sick man I am often annoyed," 
he said. " But it's worse when they remember it ! " 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 195 



XVI. 

Isabel had had no hidden motive in wishing her cousin not to 
take her home ; it simply seemed to her that for some days past 
she had consumed an inordinate quantity of his time, and the 
independent spirit of the American girl who ends by regarding 
perpetual assistance as a sort of derogation to her sanity, had 
made her decide that for these few hours she must suffice to 
herself. She had moreover a great fondness for intervals of 
solitude, and since her arrival in England it had heen but 
scantily gratified. It was a luxury she could always command 
at home, and she had missed it. That evening, however, an 
incident occurred which — had there been a critic to note it- 
would have taken all colour from the theory that the love of 
solitude had caused her to dispense with Ralph's attendance. 
She was sitting, towards nine o'clock, in the dim illumination of 
Pratt's Hotel, trying with the aid of two tall candles to lose 
herself in a volume she had brought from Gardencourt, but 
succeeding only to the extent of reading other words on the page 
than those that were printed there — words that Ealph had 
spoken to her in the afternoon. 

Suddenly the well-muffled knuckle of the waiter was applied 

to the door, which presently admitted him, bearing the card of 

a visitor. This card, duly considered, offered to Isabel's startled 

o 2 



196 * THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

vision the name of Mr. Caspar Goodwood. She let the servant 
stand before her inquiringly for some instants, without signifying 
her wishes. 

" Shall I show the gentleman up, ma*am ? " he asked at last, 
with a slightly encouraging inflection. 

Isabel hesitated still, and while she hesitated she glanced at 
the mirror. 

" He may come in," she said at last ; and waited for him with 
some emotion. 

Caspar Goodwood came in and shook hands with her. He 
said nothing till the servant had left the room again, then he 
said — 

" Why didn't you answer my letter ? " 

He spoke in a quick, full, slightly peremptory tone — the 
tone of a man whose questions were usually pointed, and who 
was capable of much insistence. 

Isabel answered him by a question. 

" How did you know I was here?" 

"Miss Stackpole let me know," said Caspar Goodwood. 
" She told me that you would probably be at home alone this 
evening, and would be willing to see me." 

" Where did she see you — ^to tell you that 1 " 

" She didn't see me ; she wrote to me." 

Isabel was silent ; neither of them had seated themselves ; 
they stood there with a certain air of defiance, or at least of 
contention. 

"Henrietta never told me that she was writing to you," 
Isabel said at last. " This is not kind of her." 

"Is it so disagreeable to you to see me?" asked the young 
man. 

I didn't expect it I don't like such surprises." 



({ 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 197 

"But you knew I was in town; it was natural we should 
meet." 

" Do you call this meeting 1 I hoped I should not see you. 
In so large a place as London it seemed to me very possible.*' 

" Apparently it was disagreeable to you even to write to me,'* 
said Mr. Goodwood. 

Isabel made no answer to this ; the sense of Henrietta 
Stackpole's treachery, as she momentarily qualified it, was 
strong within her. 

" Henrietta is not delicate ! " she exclaimed with a certain 
bitterness. " It was a great liberty to take." 

'^ I suppose I am not delicate either. The fault is mine as 
much as hers." 

As Isabel looked at him it seemed to her that his jaw had 
never been more square. This might have displeased her ; 
nevertheless she rejoined inconsequently — 

" No, it is^ not your fault so much as hers. What you have 
done is very natural." 

" It is indeed ! " cried Caspar Goodwood, with a voluntary 
laugh. " And now that I have come, at any rate, may I not stay ] " 

** You may sit down, certainly." 

And Isabel went back to her chair again, while her visitor 
took the first place that offered, in the manner of a man accus- 
tomed to pay little thought to the sort of chair he sat in. 

**I have been hoping every day for an answer to my letter," 
he said. "You might have written me a few lines." 

" It was not the tr(»uble of writing that prevented me ; I 
could as easily have written you four pages as one. But my 
silence was deliberate ; I thought it best." 

He sat with his eyes fixed on hers wlule she said this ; then 
he lowered them and attached them to a spot in the carpet, as 



198 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

if he were making a strong effort to say nothing but what he 
ought to say. He was a strong man in the wrong, and he was 
acute enough to see that an uncompromising exhibition of his 
strength would only throw the falsity of his position into relief. 
Isabel was not incapable of finding it agreeable to have an 
advantage of position over a person of this quality, and though 
she was not a girl to flaunt her advantage in his face, she was 
woman enough to enjoy being able to say "You know you 
ought not to have written to me yourself ! " and to say it with a 
certain air of triumph. 

Caspar Goodwood raised his eyes to hers again ; they wore an 
expression of ardent remonstrance. He had a strong sense of 
justice, and he was ready any day in the year — over and above 
this — to argue the question of his rights. 

^* You said you hoped never to hear from me again ; I know 
that. But I never accepted the prohibition. I promised you 
that you should hear very soon." 

" I did not say that I hoped never to hear from you," said 
Isabel. 

" Not for five years, then ; for ten years. It is the same 
thing." 

" Do you find it so ] It seems to me there is a great difference. 
I can imagine that at the end of ten years we might have a 
very pleasant correspondence. I shall have matured my epis- 
tolary style." 

Isabel looked away while she spoke these words, for she 
knew they were of a much less earnest cast than the countenance 
of her listener. Her eyes, however, at last came back to him, 
just as he said, very irrelevantly — 

" Are you enjoying your visit to your uncle ? " 

" Very much indeed." She hesitated, and then she broke 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 199 

out with even greater irrelevance, " What good do you expect 
to get by insisting ] " 

" The good of not losing you." 

" You have no right to talk about losing what is not yours. 
And even from your own point of view," Isabel added, "you 
ought to know when to let one alone." ' 

"-I displease you very much," said Caspar Goodwood gloomily ; 
not as if to provoke her to compassion for a man conscious of 
this blighting fact, but as if to set it well before himself, so 
that he might endeavour to act with his eyes upon it. 

" Yes, you displease me very much, and the worst is that it 
is needless." 

Isabel knew that his was not a soft nature, from which pin- 
pricks would draw blood ; and from the first of her acquaintance 
with him and of her having to defend herself against a certain 
air that he had of knowing better what was good for her than 
she knew herself, she had recognised the fact that perfect frank- 
ness was her best weapon. To attempt to spare his sensibility 
or to escape from him edgewise, as one might do from a man 
who had barred the way less sturdily — this, in dealing with 
Caspar Goodwood, who would take everything of every sort 
that one might give him, was wasted agility. It was not 
that he had not susceptibilities, but his passive surface, as 
well as his active, was large and firm, and he might always be 
trusted to dress his wounds himself. In measuring the effect 
of his suffering, one might always reflect that he had a sound 
constitution. 

" I can't reconcile myself to that," he said. 

There was a dangerous liberality about this ; for Isabel felt 
that it was quite open to him to say that he had not always 
displeased her. 



200 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" I can't reconcile myself to it either, and it is not the state 
of things that ought to exist between us. If you would only 
try and banish me from your mind for a few months we should 
be on good terms again." 

" I see. If I should cease to think of you for a few months 
I should find I could keep it up indefinitely." 

" Indefinitely is more than I ask. It is more even than I 
should like." 

" You know that what you ask is impossible," said the young 
man, taking his adjective for granted in a manner that Isabel 
found irritating. 

" Are you not capable of making an eflPort 1 " she demanded. 
" You are strong for everything else ; why shouldn't you be 
strong for that ? " 

" Because I am in love with you," said Caspar Goodwood 
simply. " If one is strong, one loves only the more strongly." 

" There is a good deal in that ; " and indeed our young 
lady felt the force of it. " Think of me or not, as you find most 
possible ; only leave me alone." 

** Until when?" 

" Well, for a year or two." 

" Which do you mean 1 Between one year and two there is a 
great difference." 

" Call it two, then," said Isabel, wondering whether a little 
cynicism might not be effective. 

"And what shall I gain by that?" Mr. Goodwood asked, 
giving no sign of wincing. 

" You will have obliged me greatly." 

" But what will be my reward ] " 

" Do you need a reward for an act of generosity ? " 

" Yes, when it involves a great sacrifice." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 201 

" There is no generosity without sacrifice. Men don't under- 
stand such things. If you make this sacrifice I shall admire 
you greatly." 

" I don't care a straw for your admiration. Will you marry 
mel That is the question." 

" Assuredly not, if I feel as I feel at present." 

'* Then I ask again, what I shall gain ] " 

"You will gain quite as much as by worrying me to 
death ! " 

Caspar Goodwood bent his eyes again and gazed for a while 
into the crown of his hat. A deep flush overspread his face, 
and Isabel could perceive that this dart at last had struck home. 
To see a strong man in pain had something terrible for her, and 
she immediately felt very sorry for her visitor. 

" Why do you make me say such things to you ] " she cried 
in a trembling voice. " I only want to be gentle — to be kind. 
It is not delightful to me to feel that people care for me, and 
yet to have to try and reason them out of it. I think others 
also ought to be considerate ; we have each to judge for our- 
selves. I know you are considerate, as much as you can be ; 
you have good reasons for what you do. But I don't want to 
marry. I shall probably never marry. I have a perfect right 
to feel that way, and it is no kindness to a woman*to urge her — 
to persuade her against her will. If I give you pain I can only 
say I am very sorry. It is not my fault ; I can't marry you 
simply to please you. I won't say that I shall always remain 
your friend, because when women say that, in these circum- 
stances, it is supposed, I believe, to be a sort of mockery. But 
try me some day." 

Caspar Goodwood, duiing this speech, had kept his eyes fixed 
upon the name of his hatter, and it was not until some time 



■202 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

after she hod ceased speaking that he raided them. 
(lid so, the sight of a certain rosy, lovely eagemeM 
face threw some confusion into his attempt to analysi 
liad said. " I will go home — I will go to-morrow — I 
you alone," he murmured at last, "Only," he added 
tone — " I hate to lose sight of you ! " 

"Xever fear. I will do no harm." 

"You will marry some one else," said Caapar Gw' 

" Do you think that is a generous charge t " 

" Wliy not^ Plenty of men will ask you." 

" t told you just now that I don't wish to mam' 
shall probably never do so." 

" I know you did ; but I don't believe it." 

" Thank you very much. Too appear to think I 
ing to deoeive you ; you say very delicate things." 

" Wliy should I not eay thatl You have gi 
promise that you will not marry." 

" IAki, that is all tliat would be wanting 1 " cried I 
bitter laugh. 

" You think you won't, but you will," her visitoi 
if he were preparing liimself for the worst. 

" Very well, I will then. Have it ag you please. 

" I don't know, however," said Caapar Goodwou 
keeping you in sight would prevent it." 

" Don't you indeed % I am, after all, veiy muoh 
Do you think I am so very easily pleased t" aha aal 
changing her tone. J 

" No, I don't ; I sUall try and console tajPHlf WU 
there are a certaia numher of very d 
tliere were only one, it wo uld J 
take no one who m 




liiu tliiiiliiii;,' of inK 
ith ihu tiiai that shu 

.iiowkdgc tliat I Idvu 
Hive hada tj'iKKliluiil.'' 
to carry off a tilusli, 
c; the most of tliat," 
lilwuod, gravuly, "I 



1 will annoy you. 

-.liil — "I return in aday 

■; to you to come there ; 

■ 1 witbin himself. "You 
invitation to your uncle's 

' Ij-aljcl aakod, surprised. 
Ml I suppose to bo your 
;i<it your authorisation to 
I'liiidiett should invit« me 

Henrietta certainly goes 




206 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

dismay at the thought that Lord Warburton and Mr. Goodwood 
might have met at Gardencourt : it would have been so awkward 
for Lord Warburton ! 

"When you leave your uncle, where are you going]" Caspar 
asked. 

"I shall go abroad with my aunt — to Florence and other 
places." 

The serenity of this announcement struck a chill to the young 
man's heart ; he seemed to see her whirled away into circles from 
which he was inexorably excluded. Nevertheless he went on 
quickly with his questions. " And when sliall you come back 
to America ? " 

" Perhaps not for a*long time ; I am very happy here." 

" Do you mean to give up your country 1 " 

"Don't be an infant." 

" Well, you will be out of my sight indeed ! " said Caspar 
Goodwood. 

" I don't know," she answered, rather grandly. " The world 
strikes me as small." 

" It is too large for me ! " Caspar exclaimed, with a simplicity 
which our young lady might have found touching if her face 
had not been set against concessions. 

This attitude was part of a system, a theory, that she had 
lately embraced, and to be thorough she said after a moment — 
" Don't think me unkind if I say that it's just that — being out 
of your sight — that I like. If you were in the same place as I, 
I should feel as if you were watching me, and I don't like that. 
I like my liberty too much. If there is a thing in the world 
that I am fond of," Isabel went on, with a slight recurrence of 
the grandeur that had shown itself a moment before — " it is my 
personal independence." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 207 

But whatever there was of grandeur in this speech moved 
Caspar Goodwood's admiration ; there was nothing that displeased 
him in the sort of feeling it expressed. This feeling not only did 
no violence to his way of looking at the girl he wished to make 
his wife, hut seemed a grace the more in so ardent a spirit. To 
his mind she had always had wings, and this was hut the flatter 
of those stainless pinions. He was not afraid of having a wife 
with a certain largeness of movement ; he was a man of long 
steps himself. Isahel's words, if they had heen meant to shock 
him, failed of the mark, and only made him smile with the 
sense that here was common ground. " Who would wish less 
to curtail your liherty than I?" he asked. "What can give 
me greater pleasure than to see you perfectly independent — 
doing whatever you like ? It is to make you independent that 
I want to marry you." 

" That's a beautiful sophism," said the girl, with a smile more 
beautiful still. 

"An unmarried woman — a girl of your age — is not inde- 
pendent. There are all sorts of things she can't do. She is 
hampered at every step." 

" That's as she looks at the question," Isabel answered, with 
much spirit. " I am not in my first youth — I can do what I 
choose — I belong quite to the independent class. I have neither 
father nor mother ; I am poor ; I am of a serious disposition, 
and not pretty. I therefore am not bound to be timid and 
conventional ; indeed I can't afibrd such luxuries. Besides, I 
try to judge things for myself; to judge wrong, I think, is more 
honourable than not to judge at all. I don't wish to be a mere 
sheep in the flock ; I wish to choose my fate and know some- 
thing of human affairs beyond what other people think it com- 
patible with propriety to tell me." She paused a moment, but 



208 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



not long enough for her companion to reply. He was apparently 
on the point of doing so, when she went on — " Let me say this 
to you, Mr. Goodwood. You are so kind as to speak of being 
afraid of my marrying. K you should hear a rumour that I 
am on the point of doing so — girls are liable to have such things 
said about them — remember what I have told you about my 
love of liberty, and venture to doubt it." 

There was something almost passionately positive in the tone 
in which Isabel gave him this advice, and he saw a shining 
candour in her eyes which helped him to believe her. On the 
whole he felt reassured, and you might have perceived it by the 
manner in which he said, quite eagerly — " You want simply to 
travel for two years 1 I am quite willing to wait two years, and 
you may do what you like in the interval. If that is all you 
want, pray say so. I don't want you to be conventional ; do I 
strike you as conventional myself ? Do you want to improve 
your mind 1 Your mind is quite good enough for me ; but if 
it interests you to wander about a while and see different 
countries, I shall be delighted to help you, in any way in my 
power.*' 

" You are very generous ; that is nothing new to me. The 
best way to help me will be to put as many hundred miles of 
sea between us as possible." 

" One would think you were going to commit a crime 1 " said 
Caspar Goodwood. 

" Perhaps I am. I wish to be free even to do that, if the 
fancy takes me." 

" Well then," he said, slowly, " I wlQ go home.'' And he 
put out his hand, trying to look contented and confident. 

Isabel's confidence in him, however, was greater than any he 
could feel in her. Not that he thought her capable of commit- 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 209 

ting a crime; but, turn it over as he would, there was some- 
thing ominous in the way she reserved her option. As 
Isabel took his hand, she felt a great respect for him; she 
knew how much he cared for her, and she thought him 
magnanimous. They stood so for a moment, looking at each 
other, united by a handclasp which was not merely passive 
on her side. "That's right," she said, very kindly, almost 
tenderly. "You will lose nothing by being a reasonable 
man." 

" But I will come back, wherever you are, two years hence," 
he returned, ^vith characteristic grimness. 

We have seen that our young lady was inconsequent, and at 
this she suddenly changed her note. "Ah, remember, I 
promise nothing — absolutely nothing ! " Then more softly, as 
if to help him to leave her, she added — " And remember, too, 
that I shall not be an easy victim ! " 

" You will get very sick of your independence." 

" Perhaps I shall ; it is even very probable. When that day 
comes I shall be very glad to see you." 

She had laid her hand on the knob of the door that led into 
her own room, and she waited a moment to see whether her 
visitor would not take his departure. But he appeared unable to 
move ; there was still an immense unwillingness in his attitude 
— a deep remonstrance in his eyes. 

" I must leave you now," said Isabel ; and she opened the 
door, and passed into the other room. 

This apartment was dark, but the darkness was tempered by 

a vague radiance sent up through the window from the court 

of the hotel, and Isabel could make out. the masses of the 

furniture, the dim shining of the mirror, and the looming of 

the big four-posted bed. She stood still a moment, listening, 
VOL. I. p 



210 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

and at last she heard Caspar Goodwood walk out of the 
sitting-room and close the door behind him. She stood still 
a moment longer, and then, by an irresistible impulse, she 
dropped on her knees before her bed, and hid her fsice in her 
arms. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 211 



XVII. 

She was not praying; she was trembling — trembling all 
over. She was an excitable creature, and now she was much 
excited; but she wished to resist her excitement, and the 
attitude of prayer, which she kept for some time, seemed to 
help her to be stUl. She was extremely glad Caspar Goodwood 
was gone ; there was something exhilarating in having got rid 
of him. As Isabel became conscious of this feeling she bowed 
her head a little lower ; the feeling was there, throbbing in her 
heart ; it was a part of her emotion ; but it was a thing to be 
ashamed of — ^it was profane and out of place. It was not for 
some ten minutes that she rose from her knees, and when she 
came back to the sitting-room she was still trembling a little. 
Her agitation had two causes ; part of it was to be accounted 
for by her long discussion with Mr. Goodwood, but it might be 
feared that the rest was simply the enjoyment she found in the 
exercise of her power. She sat down in the same chair again, 
and took up her book, but without going through the form of 
opening the volume. She leaned back, with that low, soft, 
aspiring murmur with which she often expressed her gladness 
in accidents of which the brighter side was not superficially 
obvious, and gave herself up to the satisfaction of having re- 
fused two ardent suitors within a fortnight. That love of 

P 2 



212 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

liberty of which she had given Caspar Groodwood so bold a 
sketch was as yet almost exclusively theoretic ; she had not 
been able to indulge it on a large scale. But it seemed to her 
that she had done something ; she had tasted of the delight, if 
not of battle, at least of victory ; she had done what she pre- 
ferred. In the midst of this agreeable sensation the image of 
Mr. Goodwood taking his sad walk homeward through, the 
dingy town presented itself with a certain reproachful force ; so 
that, as at the same moment the door of the room was opened, 
she rose quickly with an apprehension that he had come back. 
But it was only Henrietta Stackpole returning from her dinner. 

Miss Stackpole immediately saw that something had happened 
to Isabel, and indeed the discovery demanded no great penetra- 
tion. Henrietta went straight up to her friend, who received 
her without a greeting. Isabel's elation in having sent Caspar 
Goodwood back to America pre-supposed her being glad that he 
had come to see her ; but at the same time she perfectly remem- 
bered that Henrietta had had no right to set a trap for her. 

" Has he been here, dear 1 " Miss Stackpole inquired, softly. 

Isabel turned away, and for some moments answered nothing. 

" You acted very wrongly," she said at last. 

" I acted for the best, dear. I only hope you acted as well." 

" You are not the judge. I can't trust you," said Isabel 

This declaration was imflattering, but Henrietta was much too 
unselfish to heed the charge it conveyed ; she cared only for 
what it intimated with regard to her friend. 

"Isabel Archer," she declared, with equal abruptness and 
solemnity, " if you marry one of these people, I will never speak 
to you again ! " 

** Before making so terrible a threat, you had better wait till 
I am asked," Isabel replied. Never having said a word to Miss 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 213 

Stackpole about Lord Warburton's overtures, she had now no 
impulse whatever to justify herself to Henrietta by telling her 
that she had refused that nobleman. 

" Oh, you'll be asked quick enough, once you get off on the 
continent. Annie Climber was asked three times in Italy — poor 
plain little Annie." 

" Well, if Annie Climber was not captured, why should 
I be]" 

" I don't believe Annie was pressed ; but you'll be." 

" That's a flattering conviction," said Isabel, with a laugh. 

" I don't flatter you, Isabel, I tell you the truth ! " cried her 
friend. " I hope you don't mean to tell me that you didn't give 
Mr. Goodwood some hope." 

" I don't see why I should tell you anything ; as I said to 
you just now, I can't trust you. But since you are so much 
interested in Mr. Goodwood, I won't conceal from you that he 
returns immediately to America." 

** You don't mean to say you have sent him off 1 " Henrietta 
broke out in dismay. 

" I asked him to leave me alone ; and I ask you the same, 
Henrietta." 

Miss Stackpole stood there with expanded eyes, and then she 
went to the mirror over the chimney-piece and took off her 
bonnet. 

" I hope you have enjoyed your dinner," Isabel remarked, 
lightly,' as she did so. 

But Miss Stackpole was not to be diverted by frivolous pro- 
positions, nor bribed by the offer of autobiographic opportunities. 

" Do you know where you are going, Isabel Archer 1 " 

"Just now I am going to bed," said Isabel, with persistent 
frivolity. 



214 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" Do you know where you are drifting 1 " Henrietta went on, 
holding out her honnet delicately. 

" No, I haven't the least idea, and I find it very pleasant 
not to know. A swift carriage, of a dark night, rattling with 
four horses over roads that one can't see — ^that's my idea of 
happiness." 

" Mr. Goodwood certainly didn't teach you to say such things 
as that — like the heroine of an immoral novel," said Miss Stack- 
pole. " You are drifting to some great mistake." 

Isabel was irritated by her friend's interference, but even in 
the midst of her irritation she tried to think what truth this 
declaration could represent. She could think of nothing that 
diverted her from saying — " You must be very fond of me, 
Henrietta, to be willing to be so disagreeable to me." 

" I love you, Isabel," said Miss Stackpole, with feeling. 

"Well, if you love me, let me alone. I asked that of Mr. 
Goodwood, and I must also ask it of you." 

" Take care you are not let alone too much." 

" That is what Mr. Goodwood said to me. I told him I must 
take the risks." 

" You are a creature of risks — you make me shudder ! " cried 
Henrietta. " When does Mr. Goodwood return to America 1 " 

" I don't know— he didn't teU me." 

"Perhaps you didn't inquire," said Henrietta, with the note 
of righteous irony. 

" I gave him too little satisfaction to have the right to ask 
questions of him." 

This assertion seemed to Miss Stackpole for a moment to bid 
defiance to comment ; but at last she exclaimed — " Well, Isabel, 
if I didn't know you, I might think you were heartless ! " 

" Take care," said Isabel; " you are spoiling me." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 215 

" I am afraid I have done that already. I hope, at least,*' 
Miss Stackpole added, " that he may cross with Annie 
Climber ! " 

Isabel learned from her the next morning that she had deter- 
mined not to return to Gardencourt (where old Mr. Touchett 
had promised her a renewed welcome), but to await in London 
the arrival of the invitation that Mr. Bantling had promised her 
from his sister, Lady PensiL Miss Stackpole related very freely 
her conversation with Ralph Touchett's sociable friend, and 
declared to Isabel that she really believed she had now got hold 
of something that would lead to something. On the receipt of 
Lady Pensil's letter — Mr. Bantling had virtually guaranteed 
the arrival of this documents— she would immediately depart for 
Bedfordshire, and if Isabel cared to look out for her impressions 
in the Interviewer, she would certainly find them. Henrietta 
was evidently going to see something of the inner life this time . 

'* Do you know where you are drifting, Henrietta Stackpole 1 " 
Isabel asked, imitating the tone in which her friend had spoken 
the night before. 

" I am drifting to a big position — that of queen of American 
journalism. If my next letter isn't copied all over the West, 
m swallow my pen-wiper ! " 

She had arranged with her friend Miss Annie Climber, the 
young lady of the continental offers, that they should go together 
to make those purchases which were to constitute Miss Climber's 
farewell to a hemisphere in which she at least had been appreci- 
ated ; and she presently repaired to Jermyn Street to pick up 
her companion. Shortly after her departure Ralph Touchett 
was announced^ and as soon as he came jn Isabel saw that he 
had something on his mind. He very soon took his cousin 
into his confidence. He had received a telegram from his 



216 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

mother, telling him that his father had had a sharp attack of 
his old malady, that she was much alarmed, and that she begged 
Ealph would instantly return to Gardencourt. On this occa- 
sion, at least, Mrs. Touchett's devotion to the electric wire had 
nothing incongruous. 

" I have judged it best to see the great doctor, Sir Matthew 
Hope, first," Ealph said ; " by great good luck he's in town. He 
is to see me at half-past twelve, and I shall make sure of his 
coming down to Gardencourt — ^which he will do the more readily 
as he has abeady seen my father several times, both there and in 
London. There is an express at two-forty-five, which I shall 
take, and you will come back with me, or remain here a few 
days longer, exactly as you prefer." 

" I will go with you ! " Isabel exclaimed. " I don't suppose 
I can be of any use to my uncle, but if he is ill I should like to 
be near him." 

*'I think you like him," said Ealph, with a certain shy 
pleasure in his eye. " You appreciate him, which all the world 
hasn't done. The quality is too fine." 

" I think I love him," said Isabel, simply. 

" That's very well. After his son, he is your greatest admirer." 

Isabel welcomed this assurance, but she gave secretly a little 
sigh of relief at the thought that Mr. Touchett was one of those 
admirers who could not propose to marry her. This, however, 
was not what she said ; she went on to inform Ealph that there 
were other reasons why she should not remain in London. She 
was tired of it and wished to leave it ; and then Henrietta was 
going away — going to stay in Bedfordshire." 

" In Bedfordshire 1 " Ealph exclaimed, with surprise. 

"With Lady Pensil, the sister of Mr. Bantling, who has 
answered for an invitation." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 217 

Ealph was feeling anxious, but at this he broke into a laugh. 
Suddenly, however, he looked grave again. " Bantling is a man 
of courage. But if the invitation should get lost on the way 1 " 

" I thought the British post-office was impeccable." 

" The good Homer sometimes nods," said Ralph. " However," 
he went on, more brightly, " the good Bantling never does, and, 
whatever happens, he will take care of Henrietta." 

Ealph went to keep his appointment with Sir Matthew Hope, 
and Isabel made her arrangements for quitting Pratt's Hotel. 
Her uncle's danger touched her nearly, and while she stood 
before her open trunk, looking about her vaguely for what she 
should put into it, the tears suddenly rushed into her eyes. It 
was perhaps for this reason that when Ealph came back at two 
o'clock to take her to the station she was not yet ready. 

He foimd Miss Stackpole, however, in the sitting-room, where 
she had just risen from the lunch-table, and this lady immedi- 
ately expressed her regret at his father's illness. 

" He is a grand old man," she said ; " he is faithful to the 
last. If it is really to be the last — excuse my alluding to it, 
but you must often have thought of the possibility — I am sorry 
that I shall not be at Gardencourt." 

" You will amuse yourself much more in Bedfordshire." 

" I shall be sorry to amuse myself at such a time," said 
Henrietta, with much propriety. But she immediately added — 
" I should like so to commemorate the closing scene." 

" My father may live a long time," said Ralph, simply. 
Then, adverting to topics more cheerful, he interrogated Miss 
Stackpole as to her own future. 

Now that Ralph was in trouble, she addressed him in a tone 
of larger allowance, and told him that she was much indebted 
to him for having made her acquainted with Mr. Bantling. 



218 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" He has told me just the things I want to know," she said; 
" all the society-items and all about the royal family. I can't 
make out that what he tells me about the royal family is much 
to their credit ; but he says that's only my peculiar way of 
looking at it. "Well, all I want is that he should give me the 
facts; I can put them together quick enough, once I've got 
thern." And she added that Mr. Bantling had been so good 
as to promise to come and take her out in the afternoon. 

" To take you where ] " Ealph ventured to inquire. 

" To Buckingham Palace. He is going to show me over it, 
so that I may get some idea how they live." 

" Ah," said Kalph, " we leave you in good hands. The first 
thing we shall hear is that you are invited to Windsor Castle." 

" If they ask me, I shall certainly go. Once I get started I 
am not afraid. But for all that," Henrietta added in a moment, 
" I am not satisfied; I am not satisfied about Isabel" 

" What is her last misdemeanour ] " 

" Well, I have told you before, and I suppose there is no 
harm in my going on. I always finish a subject that I take up. 
Mr. Goodwood was here last night." 

Kalph opened his eyes ; he even blushed a little — his blush 
being the sign of an emotion somewhat acute. He remembered 
that Isabel, in separating from him in Winchester Square, had 
repudiated his suggestion that her motive in doing so was the 
expectation of a visitor at Pratt's Hotel, and it was a novel 
sensation to him to have to suspect her of duplicity. On the 
other hand, he quickly said to himself, what concern was it of 
his that she should have made an appointment with a lover 1 
Had it not been thought graceful in every age that young ladies 
should make a mystery of such appointments? Ealph made 
Miss Stackpole a diplomatic answer. " I should have thought 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 219 

that, with the views you expressed to me the other day, that 
would satisfy you perfectly." 

" That he should come to see her 1 That was very well, as 
far as it went. It was a little plot of mine ; I let him know 
that we were in London, and when it had heen arranged that I 
should spend the evening out, I just sent him a word — a word 
to the wise. I hoped he would find her alone ; I won't pretend 
I didn't hope that you would he out of the way. He came to 
see her ; but he might as well have stayed away." 

" Isabel was cruel ? " Ealph inquired, smiling, and relieved at 
learning that his cousin had not deceived him. 

" I don't exactly know what passed between them. But she 
gave him no satisfaction — she sent him back to America." 

" Poor Mr. Goodwood ! " Ralph exclaimed. 

" Her only idea seems to be to get rid of him," Henrietta 
went on. 

" Poor Mr. Goodwood ! " repeated Ealph. The exclamation, 
it must be confessed, was somewhat mechanical. It failed 
exactly to express his thoughts, which were taking another 
line. 

** You don't say that as if you felt it ; I don't believe you care." 

" Ah," said Ralph, '* you must remember that I don't know 
this interesting young man — that I have never seen him." 

" Well, I shall see him, and I shall tell him not to give up. 
If I didn't believe Isabel would come round," said Miss Stack- 
pole — " well, I'd give her up myself I " 



220 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



XVIII. 

It had occurred to Ralph that under the circumstances Isabel's 
parting with Miss Stackpole might be of a slightly embarrassed 
nature, and he went down to the door of the hotel in advance 
of his cousin, who after a slight delay followed, with the traces 
of an unaccepted remonstrance, as he thought, in her eye. The 
two made the journey to Gardencourt in almost unbroken 
silence, and the servant who met them at the station had no 
better news to give them of Mr. Touchett — a fact which caused 
Ealph to congratulate himself afresh on Sir Matthew Hope's 
having promised to come down in the five o'clock train and spend 
the night. Mrs. Touchett, he learned, on reaching home, had 
been constantly with the old man, and was with him at that 
moment; and this fact made Balph.say to himself that, after 
all, what his mother wanted was simply opportunity. The 
finest natures were those that shone on large occasions. Isabel 
went to her own room, noting, throughout the house, that per- 
ceptible hush which precedes a crisis. At the end of an hour, 
however, she came down-stairs in search of her aunt, whom 
she wished to ask about Mr. Touchett. She went into the 
library, but Mrs. Touchett was not there, and as the weather, 
which had been damp and chill, was now altogether spoiled, 
it was not probable that she had gone for her usual walk in 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 221 



the grounds. Isabel was on the point of ringing to send an 
inquiry to her room, when her attention was taken by an un- 
expected sound — the sound of low music proceeding appar- 
ently from the drawing-room. She knew that her aunt never 
touched the piano, and the musician was therefore probably 
Ealph, who played for his own amusement. That he should 
have resorted to this recreation at the present time, indicated 
apparently that his anxiety about his father had been relieved ; 
so that Isabel took her way to the drawing-room with much 
alertness. The drawing-room at Gardencourt was an apart- 
ment of great distances, and as the piano was placed at the end 
of it furthest removed from the door at which Isabel entered, 
her arrival was not noticed by the person seated before the 
instrument. This person was neither Ealph nor his mother ; it 
was a lady whom Isabel immediately saw to be a stranger to 
herself, although her back was presented to the door. This 
back — an ample and well-dressed one — Isabel contemplated for 
some moments in surprise. The lady was of course a visitor 
who had arrived during her absence, and who had not been 
mentioned by either of the servants — one of them her aunt's 
maid — of whom she had had speech since her return. Isabel 
had already learned, however, that the British domestic is not 
effusive, and she was particularly conscious of having been 
treated with dryness by her aunt's maid, whose offered assistance 
the young lady from Albany — versed, as young ladies are in 
Albany, in the very metaphysics of the toilet — had perhaps 
made too light of. The arrival of a visitor was far from dis- 
agreeable to Isabel; she had not yet divested herself of a 
youthful impression that each new acquaintance; would exert 
some momentous influence upon her life. By the time she 
had made these reflections she became aware that the lady at 



222 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

the piano played remarkably well. She was playing something 
of Beethoven's — Isabel knew not what, but she recognised 
Beethoven — and she touched the piano softly and discreetly, 
but with evident skilL Her touch was that of an artist ; Isabel 
sat down noiselessly on the nearest chair and waited till th.e 
end of the piece. When it was finished she felt a strong desire 
to thank the player, and rose from her seat to do so, while at the 
same time the lady at the piano turned quickly round, as if she 
had become aware of her presence. 

" That is very beautiful, and your playing makes it more 
beautiful still," said Isabel, with all the young radiance vnth* 
which she usually uttered a truthful rapture. 

"You don't thmk I disturbed Mr. Touchett, theni" the 
musician answered, as sweetly as this compliment deserved. 
" The house is so large, and his room so far away, that I thought 
I might venture — especially as I played just — just du bout des 
doigtsy 

" She is a Frenchwoman," Isabel said to herself ; " she says 
that as if she were French." And this supposition made the 
stranger more interesting to our speculative heroine. " I hope 
my uncle is doing well," Isabel added. " I should think that 
to hear such lovely music as that would really make him feel 
better." 

The lady gave a discriminating smile. 

" I am afraid there are moments in life when even Beethoven 
has nothing to say to us. We must admit, however, that they 
are our worst moments." 

" I am not in that state now," said Isabel. " On the con- 
trary, I should be so glad if you would play something more." 

" If it will give you pleasure — most willingly." And this 
obUging person took her place again, and struck a few chords. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 223 



while Isabel sat down nearer the instrument. Suddenly the 
stranger stopped, with her hands on the keys, half-turning and 
looking over her shoulder at the girL She was forty years old, 
and she was not pretty; but she had a delightful expression. 
" Excuse me," she said ; " but are you the niece — the young 
American ? " 

" I am my aunt's niece," said Isabel, with naivete. 

The lady at the piano sat still a moment longer, looking over 
her shoulder with her charming smile. 

" That's very well," she said, " we are compatriots." 

And then she began to play. 

" Ah, then she is not French," Isabel murmured ; and as the 
opposite supposition had made her interesting, it might have 
seemed that this revelation would have diminished her effective- 
ness. But such was not the fact ; for Isabel, as she listened to 
the music, found much stimulus to conjecture in the fact that 
an American should so strongly resemble a foreign woman. 

Her companion played in the same manner as before, softly 
and solemnly, and while she played the shadows deepened in the 
room. The autumn twilight gathered in, and from her place 
Isabel could see the rain, which had now begun in earnest, 
washing the cold-looking lawn, and the wind shaking the great 
trees. At last, when the music had ceased, the lady got up, and, 
coming to her auditor, smiling, before Isabel had time to thank 
her again, said — 

" I am very glad you have come back ; I have heard a grea^ 
deal about you." 

Isabel thought her a very attractive person ; but she never- 
theless said, with a certain abruptness, in answer to this 
speech — 

" From whom have you heard about me % " 



224 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

The stranger hesitated a single moment, and then — 

" From your uncle," she answered. " I have been here three 
days, and the first day he let me come and pay him a visit in his 
room. Then he talked constantly of you." 

" As you didn't know me, that must have bored you." 

** It made me want to know you. All the more that since 
then — your aunt being so much with Mr. Touchett — I have been 
quite alone, and have got rather tired of my own society. I 
have not chosen a good moment for my visit." 

A servant had come in with lamps, and was presently followed 
by another, bearing the tea-tray. Of the appearance of this 
repast Mrs. Touchett had apparently been notified, for she now 
arrived and addressed herself to the tea-pot. Her greeting to her 
niece did not differ materially from her manner of raising the lid 
of this receptacle in order to glance at the contents : in neither 
act was it becoming to make a show of avidity. Questioned 
about her husband, she was unable to say that he was better ; 
but the local doctor was with him, and much light was expected 
from this gentleman's consultation with Sir Matthew Hope. 

" I suppose you two ladies have made acquaintance ] " she 
said. " If you have not, I recommend you to do so ; for so long 
as we continue — Ealph and I — to cluster about Mr. Touchett's 
bed, you are not likely to have much society but each other." 

"I know nothing about you but that you are a great 
musician," Isabel said to the visitor. 

"There is a good deal more than that to know," Mrs. Touchett 
affirmed, in her little dry tone. 

" A very little of it, I am sure, will content Miss Archer ! " 
the lady exclaimed, with a light laugh. " I am an old friend of 
your aunt's — I have lived much in Florence — I am Madame 
Merle." 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 225 

She made this last announcement as if she were referring to a 
person of tolerably distinct identity. 

For Isabel, however, it represented but little ; she could only 
continue to feel that Madame Merle had a charming manner. 

" She is not a foreigner, in spite of her name," said Mrs. 
Touchett. "She was born — I always forget where you were 
born." 

" It is hardly worth while I should tell you then." 

" On the contrary," said Mrs. Touchett, who rarely missed a 
logical point ; " if I remembered, your telling me would be quite 
superfluous." 

Madame Merle glanced at Isabel with a fine, frank smile. 

" I was bom under the shadow of the national banner." 

" She is too fond of mystery," said Mrs. Touchett ; " that is 
her great fault." 

" Ah," exclaimed Madame Merle, " I have great faults, but I 
don't think that is one of them ; it certainly is not the greatest 
I came into the world in the Brooklyn navy-yard. My father 
was a high officer in the United States navy, and had a post — a 
• post of responsibility— in that establishment at the time. I 
suppose I ought to love the sea, but I hate it. That's why I 
don't return to America. I love the land ; the great thing is to 
love something." 

Isabel, as a dispassionate witness, had not been struck with 
the force of Mrs. Touchett's characterisation 0/ her visitor, who 
had an expressive, communicative, responsive face, by no means 
of the sort which, to Isabel's mind, suggested a secretive disposi- 
tion. It was a face that told of a rich nature and of quick and 
liberal impulses, and though it had no regular beauty was in the 
highest degree agreeable to contemplate. 

Madame Merle was a tall, fair, plump woman ; everything in 

VOL. I. Q 



226 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

her person was round and replete, though without those accumu- 
lations which minister to indolence. Her features were thick, 
but there was a graceful harmony among them, and her com- 
plexion had a healthy clearness. She had a small grey eye, with 
a great deal of light in it — an eye incapable of dulness, and, 
according to some people, incapable of tears ; and a wide, firm 
mouth, which, when she smiled, drew itself upward to the left 
side, in a manner that most people thought very odd, some very 
affected, and a few very graceful Isabel inclined to range 
herself in the last category. Madame Merle had thick, fair hair, 
which was arranged with picturesque simplicity, and a large 
white hand, of a perfect shape — a shape so perfect that its 
owner, preferring to leave it unadorned, wore no rings. Isabel 
had taken her at first, as we have seen, for a Frenchwoman ; but 
extended observation led her to say to herself that Madame 
Merle might be a German^— a German of rank, a countess, a 
princess. Isabel would never have supposed that she had been 
bom in Brooklyn — though she could doubtless not have justified 
her assumption that the air of distinction, possessed by Madame 
Merle in so eminent a degree, was inconsistent with such a birth. 
It was true that the national banner had floated immediately 
over the spot of the lady's nativity, and the breezy freedom of 
the stars and stripes might have shed an influence upon the 
attitude which she then and there took towards life. And yet 
Madame Merle had evidently nothing of the fluttered, flapping 
quality of a morsel of bunting in the wind ; her deportment 
expressed the repose and confidence which come from a large 
experience. Experience, however, had not quenched her youth ; 
it had simply made her sympathetic and supple. She was in a 
word a woman of ardent impulses, kept in admirable order. 
What an ideal combination ! thought Isabel. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 227 

She made these reflections while the three ladies sat at their 
tea ; but this ceremony was interrupted before long by the arrival 
of the great doctor from London, who had been immediately 
ushered into the drawing-room. Mrs. Touchett took him off to 
the library, to confer with him in private ; and then Madame 
Merle and Isabel parted, to meet again at dinner. The idea of 
seeing more of this interesting woman did much to mitigate 
IsabeFs perception of the melancholy that now hung over 
Gardencourt. 

When she came into the drawing-room before dinner she 
found the place empty ; but in the course of a moment Ealph 
arrived. His anxiety about his father had been lightened ; Sir 
Matthew Hope's view of his condition was less sombre than 
Ealph's had been. The doctor recommended that the nurse 
alone should remain with the old man for the next three or four 
hours ; so that Ealph, his mother, and the great physician him- 
self, were free to dine at table. Mrs. Touchett and Sir Matthew 
came in ; Madame Merle was the laat to appear. 

Before she came, Isabel spoke of her to Ealph, who was 
standing before the fireplace. 

" Pray who is Madame Merle ] " 

" The cleverest woman I know, not excepting yourself," said 
Ealph. 

" I thought she seemed very pleasant." 

** I was sure you would think her pleasant," said Ealph. 

** Is that why you invited her ] " 

" I didn't invite her, and when we came back from London I 
didn't know she was here. No one invited her. She is a friend 
of my mother's, and just after you and I went to town, my 
mother got a note from her. She had arrived in England (she 
usually lives abroad, though she has first and last spent a good 

Q 2 



228 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

deal of time here), and she asked leave to come down for a few 
days. Madame Merle is a woman who can make such proposals 
with perfect confidence ; she is so welcome wherever she goes. 
And with my mother there could be no question of hesitating ; 
she is the one person in the world whom my mother very much 
admires. K she were not herself (which she after all much 
prefers), she would like to be Madame Merle. It would, indeed, 
be a great change." 

" Well, she is very charming," said Isabel " And she plays 
beautifully." 

" She does everything beautifully. She is complete," 

Isabel looked at her cousin a moment. " You don't like her." 

** On the contrary, I was once in love with her." 

" And she didn't care for you, and that's why you don't like 
her." 

"How can we have discussed such things? M. Merle was 
then living." 

" Is he dead now ] " 

" So she says." 

" Don't you believe her 1 " 

" Yes, because the statement agrees with the probabilities. 
The husband of Madame Merle would be likely to pass away." 

Isabel gazed at her cousin again. " I don't know what you 
mean. You mean something — ^that you don't mean. What was 
M. Merle 1 " 

« The husband of Madame." 

*^ You are very odious. Has she any children ] " 

" Not the least little child — fortunately." 

"Fortunately]" 

"I mean fortunately for the child; she would be sure to 
spoil it." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 229 



Isabel was apparently on the point of assuring her cousin for 
the third time that he was odious ; but the discussion was inter- 
rupted by the arrival of the lady who was the topic of it She 
came rustling in quickly, apologising for being late, fastening a 
bracelet, dressed in dark blue satin, which exposed a white 
bosom that was ineffectually covered by a curious silver necklace. 
Ealph offered her his arm with the exaggerated alertness of a 
man who was no longer a lover. 

Even if this had still been his condition, however, Ralph had 
other things to think about. The great doctor spent the night 
at Gardencourt, and returning to London' on the morrow, after 
another consultation with Mr. Touchett's own medical adviser, 
concurred in Ralph's desire that he should see the patient again 
on the day following. On the day following Sir Matthew Hope 
reappeared at Gardencourt, and on this occasion took a less 
encouraging view of the old man, who had grown worse in the 
twenty-four hours. His feebleness was extreme, and to his son, 
who constantly sat by his bedside, it often seemed that his end 
was at hand. The local doctor, who was a very sagacious man, 
and in whom Ralph had secretly more confidence than in his 
distinguished colleague, was constantly in attendance, and Sir 
Matthew Hope returned several times to Gardencourt. Mr. 
Touchett was much of the time unconscious ; he slept a great 
deal ; he rarely spoke. Isabel had a great desire to be useful to 
him, and was allowed to watch with him several times when 
his other attendants (of whom Mrs. Touchett was not the least 
regular) went to take rest. He never seemed to know her, and 
she always said to herself — " Suppose he should die while I am 
sitting here ; " an idea which excited her and kept her awake. 
Once he opened his eyes for a while and fixed them upon her 
intelligently, but when she went to him, hoping he would recog- 



230 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

nise her, he closed them and relapsed into unconsciousness. 
The day after this, however, he revived for a longer time ; but 
on this occasion Ealph was with him alone. The old man began 
to talk, much to his son's satisfaction, who assured him that they 
should presently have him sitting up. 

** No, my boy," said Mr. Touchett, " not unless you bury me 
in a sitting posture, as some of the ancients — was it the ancients 1 
— used to do." 

" Ah,daddy, don't talk about that," Ealph murmured. " You 
must not deny that you are getting better." 

" There will be no need of my denying it if you don't say so," 
the old man answered. " Why should we prevaricate, just at 
the last? We never prevaricated before. I have got to die 
some time, and it's better to die when one is sick than when 

one is well. I am very sick — as sick as I shall ever be. I hope 

« 

you don't want to prove that I shall ever be worse than this 1 
That would be too bad. You don't 1 Well then." 

Having made this excellent point he became quiet ; but the 
next time that Ealph was with him he again addressed himself 
to conversation. The nurse had gone to her supper and Ealph 
was alone with him, having just relieved Mrs. Touchett, who 
had been on guard since dinner. The room was lighted only by 
the flickering fire, which of late had become necessary, and 
Ealph's tall shadow was projected upon the wall and ceiling, 
with an outline constantly varying but always grotesque. 

" Who is that with me — is it my son 1 " the old man asked. 

" Yes, it's your son, daddy." 

" And is there no one else 1 " 

" "No one else." 

Mr. Touchett said nothing for a while ; and then, " I want to 
talk a little," he went on. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 231 

" Won't it tire you ] " Ralph inquired. 

" It won't matter if it does. I shall have a long rest. I want 
to talk about you." 

Ralph had drawn nearer to the bed ; he sat leaning forward, 
with his hand on his father's. "You had better select a 
brighter topic," he said. 

"You were always bright; I used to be proud of your 
brightness. I should like so much to think that you would do 
something." 

" If you leave us," said Ralph, "I shall do nothing but miss you." 

" That is just what I don't want ; it's what I want to talk 
about. You must get a new interest" 

" I don't want a new interest, daddy. I have more old ones 
than I know what to do with." 

The old man lay there looking at his son ; his face was the 
face of the dying, but his eyes were the eyes of Daniel Touchett. 
He seemed to be reckoning over Ralph's interests. " Of course 
you have got your mother," he said at last. " You will take care 
of her." 

"My mother will always take care of herself," Ralph an- 
swered. 

" Well," said his father, " perhaps as she grows older she will 
need a little help." 

" I shall not see that. She will outlive me." 

" Very likely she will ; but that's no reason — " Mr. Touchett 
let his phrase die away in a helpless but not exactly querulous 
sigh, and remained silent again. 

"Don't trouble yourself about us," said his son. "My 
mother and I get on very well together, you know." 

" You get on by always being apart ; that's not natural." 

" If you leave us, we shall probably see more of each other." 



232 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" Well,** the old man observed, with wandering irrelevance, 
'^ it cannot be said that my death will make much difference in 
your mother's life." 

" It will probably make more than you think." 

"Well, she'll have more money," said Mr. Touchett. "I 
have left her a good wife's portion, just as if she had been a good 
wife." 

"She has been one, daddy, according to her own theory. 
She has never troubled you." 

"Ah, some troubles are pleasant," Mr. Touchett murmured. 
" Those you have given me, for instance. But your mother has 
been less — ^less — what shall I call it ? less out of the way since 
I have been ilL I presume she knows I have noticed it." 

" I shall certainly tell her so ; I am so glad you mention it." 

" It won't make any difference to her ; she doesn't do it to 
please me. She does it to please — to please — ** And he lay 
a while, trying to think why she did it. "She does it to 
please herself. But that is not what I want to talk about," he 
added. " It's about you. You will be very weU off." 

" Yes," said Ralph, " I know that But I hope you have not 
forgotten the talk we had a year ago^when I told you exactly 
what money I should need and begged you to make some good 
use of the rest " 

" Yes, yes, I remember. I made a new will — ^in a few days. 
I suppose it was the first time such a thing had happened — a 
young man trying to get a wUl made against him." 

" It is not against me," said Ralph. " It would be against 
me to have a largo property to take care of. It is impossible for 
a man in my state of health to spend much money, and enough 
is as good as a feast" 

" Well, you will have enough — and something over. There 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 233 

will be more than enough for one — there will be enough for 
two." 

" That's too much/' said Ralph. 

" Ah, don't say that. The best thing you can do, when I am 
gone, will be to marry." 

Ralph had foreseen what his father was coming to, and this 
suggestion was by no means novel. It had long been Mr. 
Touchett's most ingenious way of expressing the optimistic view 
of his son's health. Ralph had usually treated it humorously; 
but present circumstances made the humorous tone impossible. 
\ He simply fell back in his chair and returned his father's appeal- 
ing gaze in silence. 

"If I, with a wife who hasn't been very fond of me, have 
had a very happy life," said the old man, carrying his ingenuity 
further stiU, *^ what a life might you not have, if you should 
marry a person different from Mrs. Touchett. There are more 
different from her than there are like her." 

Ralph still said nothing ; and after a pause his father asked 
softly — " What do you think of your cousin ? " 

At this Ralph started, meeting the question with a rather 
fixed smile. " Do I understand you to propose that I should 
marry Isabel 1 " 

" Well, that's what it comes to in the end. Don't you like 
herr' * 

" Yes, very much." And Ralph got up from his chair and 
wandered over to the fire. He stood before it an instant and 
then he stooped and stirred it, mechanically. " I like Isabel 
very much," he repeated. 

" Well," said his father, " I know she likes you. She told 
me so." 

** Did she remark that she would like to marry me ? " 



234 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" No, but she can't have anything against you. And she is 
the most charming young lady I have ever seen. And she 
would be good to you. I have thought a great deal about it." 

" So have I," said Ealph, coming back to the bedside again. 
" I don't mind telling you that." 

" You are in love with her, then ] I should think you would 
be. It's as if she came over on purpose." 

"No, I am not in love with her; but I should be if — ^if 
certain things were different." 

" Ah, things are always different from what they might be," 
said the old man. " If you wait for them to change, you will 
never do anything. I don't know whether you know," he went 
on ; ** but I suppose there is no harm in my alluding to it in 
such an hour as this : there was some one wanted to marry 
Isabel the other day, and she wouldn't have him." 

" I know she refused Lord Warburton ; he told me himself.' 

" Well, that proves that there is a chance for somebody else.' 

" Somebody else took his chance the other day in London — 
and got nothing by it." 

" Was it you % " Mr. Touchett asked, eagerly. 

" No, it was an older friend ; a poor gentleman who came 
over from America to see about it." 

** Well, I am sorry for him. But it only proves what I say 
— that the way is open to you." 

" If it is, dear father, it is all the greater pity that I am 
unable to tread it, I haven't many convictions; but I have 
three or four that I hold strongly. One is that people, on the 
whole, had better not marry their cousins. Another is, that 
people in an advanced stage of pulmonary weakness had better 
not marry at all." 

The old man raised his feeble hand and moved it to and fro 






THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 235 

a little before his face. " What do you mean by that ] You 
look at things in a way that would make everything wrong. 
What sort of a cousin is a cousin that you have never seen for 
more than twenty years of her life ] We are all each other's 
cousins, and if we stopped at that the human race would die 
out. It is just the same with your weak lungs. You are a 
great deal better than you used to be. All you want is to lead 
a natural life. It is a great deal more natural to marry a pretty 
young lady that you are in love with than it is to remain single 
on false principles." 

" I am not in love with Isabel," said Ralph. 

" You said just now that you would be if you didn't think it 
was wrong. I want to prove to you that it isn't wrong." 

" It will only tire you, dear daddy," said Ealph, who mar- 
velled at his father's tenacity and at his finding strength to 
insist. " Then where shall we all be ] " 

" Where shall you be if I don't provide for you] You won't 
have anything to do with the bank, and you won't have me to 
take care of. You say you have got so many interests ; but I 
can't make them out." 

Ealph leaned back in his chair, with folded arms ; his eyes 
were fixed for some time in meditation. At last, with the air . 
of a man fairly mustering courage — " I take a great interest in 
my cousin," he said, " but not the sort of interest you desire. 
I shall not live many years ; but I hope I shall live long enough 
to see what she does with herself. She is entirely independent 
of me ; I can exercise very little influence upon her life. But 
I should like to do something for her." 

« What should you like to do ] " 

" I should like to put a little wind in her sails." 

" What do you mean by that ? " 



236 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" I should like to put it into her power to do some of the 
things she wants. She wants to see the world, for instance. I 
should like to put money in her purse." 

" Ah, I am glad you have thought of that," said the old man. 
" But I have thought of it too. I have left her a legacy — five 
thousand pounds," 

"That is capital; it is very kind of you. But I should like 
to do a little more." 

Something of that veiled acuteness with which it had been, 
on Daniel Touchett's part, the habit of a lifetime to listen to a 
financial proposition, still lingered in the face in which the 
invalid had not obliterated the man of business. " I shall be 
happy to consider it," he said, softly. 

" Isabel is poor, then. My mother tells me that she has but 
a few hundred dollars a year. I should like to make her rich." 

** What do you mean by richi" 

" I caU people rich when they are able to gratify their imagin- 
ation. Isabel has a great deal of imagination." 

" So have you, my son," said Mr. Touchett, listening very 
attentively, but a little confusedly. 

" You tell me I shall have money enough for two. What I 
want is that you should kindly relieve me of my superfluity 
and give it to IsabeL Divide my inheritance into two equal 
halves, and give the second half to her." 

" To do what she likes with 1 " 

" Absolutely what she likes." 

"And without an equivalent?" 

" What equivalent could there be 1 " 

" The one I have already mentioned.", 

"Her marrying — some one or other? If s just to do away 
with anything of that sort that I make my suggestion. If she 



THE PORTRAIT OF A I^^DY. 237 



has an easy income she will never have to marry for a sup- 
port. She wishes to he free, and your hequest will make her 
free." 

** Well, you seem to have thought it out,*' said Mr. Touchett. 
" But I don't see why you appeal to me. The money will be 
yours, and you can easily give it to her yourself." 

Ralph started a little. " Ah, dear father, / can't offer Isabel 
money ! " 

The old 'man gave a groan. " Don't tell me you are not 
in love with her ! Do you want, me to have the credit of 
itr' 

" Entirely. I should like it simply to be a clause in your 
will, without the slightest reference to me." 

" Do you want me to make a new will, then 1 " 

" A few words will do it ; you can attend to it the next time 
you feel a little lively." 

" You must telegraph to Mr. Hilary, then. I will do nothing 
without my solicitor." 

" You shall see Mr. Hilary to-morrow." 

" He wiU think we have quarrelled, you and I," said the old 
man. 

" Very probably ; I shall like him to think it," said Ealph, 
smiling ; " and to carry out the idea, I give you notice that I 
shall be very sharp with you." 

The humour of this appeared to touch his father ; he lay a 
little while taking it in. 

" I will do anything you like," he said at last ; " but I'm not 
sure it's right You say you want to put wind in her sails ; 
but aren'fc you afraid of putting too much ] " 

" I should like to see her going before the breeze ! " Ealph 
answered. 



238 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" You speak as if it were for your entertainment." 

" So it is, a good deal." 

" WeU, I don't think I understand," said Mr. Touchett, with 
a sigh. " Young men are very different from what I was. 
When I cared for a girl — when I was young — I wanted to do 
more than look at her. You have scruples that I shouldn't have 
had, and you have ideas that I shouldn't have had either. You 
say that Isahel wants to he free, and that her heing rich will 
keep her from marrying for money. Do you think that she is 
a girl to do that ] " 

" By no means. But she has less money than she has ever 
had hefore ; her father gave her everything, hecause he used to 
spend his capital. She has nothing hut the crumhs of that 
feast to live on, and she doesn't really know how meagre they 
are — she has yet to learn it. My mother has told me all about 
it. Isabel will learn it when she is really thrown upon the 
world, and it would be very painful to me to think of her 
coming to the consciousness of a lot of wants that she should be 
unable to satisfy." 

" I have left her five thousand pounds. She can satisfy a 
good many wants with that." 

" She can indeed. But she would probably spend it in two 
or three years." 

" You think she would be extravagant then ] " 

*' Most certainly," said Ealph, smiling serenely. 

Poor Mr. Touchett's acuteness was rapidly giving place to 
pure confusion. " It would merely be a question of time, then, 
her spending the larger sum ] " 

**No, at first I think she would plunge into that pretty 
freely ; she would probably make over a part of it to each of 
her sisters. But after that she would come to her senses, 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 239 

remember that she had still a lifetime before her, and live 
within her means." 

" Well, you have worked it out," said the old man, with a 
sigh. "You do take an interest in her, certainly." 

" You can't consistently say I go too far. You wished me to 
go further." 

"Well, I don't know," the old man answered. "I don't 
think I enter into your spirit. It seems to me immoral" 

" Immoral, dear daddy ? " 

" Well, I don't know that it's right to make everything so 
easy for a person." 

" It surely depends upon the person. When the person is 
good, your making things easy is all to the credit of virtue. To 
facilitate the execution of good impulses, what can be a nobler 
act ? " 

This was a little difficult to follow, and Mr. Touchett con- 
sidered it for a while. At last he said — 

" Isabel is a sweet young girl ; but do you think she is as 
good as that ? " 

" She is as good as her best opportunities," said Ralph. 

"Well," Mr. Touchett declared, "she ought to get a great 
many opportunities for sixty thousand pounds." 

** I have no doubt she will." 

" Of course I will do what you want," said the old man. " I 
only want to understand it a little." 

" Well, dear daddy, don't you understand it now % " his son 
asked, caressingly. "If you don't, we won't take any more 
trouble about it ; we will leave it alone." 

Mr. Touchett lay silent a long time. Ralph supposed that 
he had given up the attempt to understand it. But at last he 
began again — 



240 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

" Tell me this first Doesn't it occur to you that a young 
lady with sixty thousand pounds may fall a victim, to the 
fortune-hunters 1 " 

" She will hardly fall a victim to more than one." 

" Well, one is too many." 

** Decidedly. That's a risk, and it has entered into my 
calculation. I think it's appreciable, but I think it's small, 
and I am prepared to take it." 

Poor Mr. Touchett's acuteness had passed into perplexity, 
aid his perplexity now paased into admiration. 

" Well, you have gone into it ! " he exclaimed. " But I don't 
see what good you are to get of it." 

Ralph leaned over his father's pillows and gently smoothed 
them ; he was aware that their conversation had been prolonged 
to a dangerous point. "I shall get just the good that I said 
just now I wished to put into Isabel's reach — that of having 
gratified my imagination. But it's scandalous, the way I have 
taken advantage of you ! " 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 241 



XIX. 

As Mrs. Touchett had foretold, Isabel and Madame Merle 
were thrown much together during the illness of their host, and 
if they had not become intimate it would have been almost a 
breach of good manners. Their manners were of the best ; but 
in addition to this they happened to please each other. It is 
perhaps too much to say that they swore an eternal friendship ; 
but tacitly, at least, they called the future to witness. Isabel 
did so with a perfectly good conscience, although she would 
have hesitated to admit that she was intimate with her new 
friend in the sense which she privately attached to this term. 
She often wondered, indeed, whether she ever had been, or ever 
could be, intimate with any one. She had an ideal of friend- 
ship, as well as of several other sentiments, and it did not seem 
to her in this case — it had not seemed to her in other cases — 
that the actual completely expressed it. But she often reminded 
herself that there were essential reasons why one's ideal could 
not become concrete. It was a thing to believe in, not to see 
— ^a matter of faith, not of experience. Experience, however, 
might supply us with very creditable imitations of it, and the 
part of wisdom was to make the best of these. Certainly, on 
the whole, Isabel had never encountered a more agreeable and 

interesting woman than Madame Merle ; she had never met a 
VOL. I. R 



242 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

woman who liad less of that fault which is the principal obstacle 
to friendship — the air of reproducing the more tiresome parts of 
one's own personality. The gates of the girl's confidence were 
opened wider than they had ever been; she said things to 
Madame Merle that she had not yet said to any one. Sometimes 
she took alarm at her candour ; it was as if she had given to a 
comparative stranger the key to her cabinet of jewels. These 
spiritual gems were the only ones of any magnitude that Isabel 
possessed ; but that was all the greater reason why they should 
be carefully guarded. Afterwards, however, the girl always said 
to herself that one should never regret a generous error, and that 
if Madame Merle had not the merits she attributed to her, so 
much the worse for Madame Merle. There was no doubt she 
had great merits — she was a charming, sympathetic, intelligent, 
cultivated woman. More than this (for it had not been Isabel's 
ill-fortune to go through life without meeting several persons of 
her own sex, of whom no less could fairly be said), she was rare, 
she was superior, she was pre-eminent. There are a great many 
amiable people in the world, and Madame Merle was far from 
being vulgarly good-natured and restlessly witty. She knew 
how to think — an accomplishment rare in women ; and she had 
thought to very good purpose. Of course, too, she knew how 
to feel ; Isabel could not have spent a week with her without 
being sure of that. This was, indeed, Madame Merle's great 
talent, hier most perfect gift. Life had told upon her ; she had 
felt it strongly, and it was part of the satisfaction that Isabel 
found in her society that when the girl talked of what she was 
pleased to call serious matters, her companion understood her so 
easily and quickly. Emotion, it is true, had become with her 
rather historic ; she made no secret of the fact that the fountain 
of sentiment, thanks to having been rather violently tapped at 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 248 

one period, did not flow quite so freely as of yore. Her pleasure 
was now to judge rather than to feel ; she freely admitted that 
of old she had been rather foolish, and now she pretended to 
be wise. 

" I judge more than I used to," she said to Isabel ; " but it 
seems to me that I have earned the right. One can*fc judge till 
one is forty ; before that we are too eager, too hard, too cruel, 
and in addition too ignorant. I am sorry for you ; it will be a 
long time before you are forty. But every gain is a loss of 
some kind ; I often think that after forty one can't really feel. 
The freshness, the quickness have certainly gone. You will 
keep them longer than most people ; it will be a great satis- 
faction to me to see you some years hence. I want to see 
what life makes of you. One thing is certain — it can't spoil 
you. It may pull you about horribly ; but I defy it to break 
you up." 

Isabel received this assurance as a young soldier, still panting 
from a slight skirmish in which he has come off with honour, 
might receive a pat on the shoulder from his colonel. Like such 
a recognition of merit, it seemed to come with authority. How 
could the lightest word do less, of a person who was prepared to 
say, of almost everything Isabel told her — " Oh, I have been in 
that, my dear; it passes, like everything else." Upon many of 
her interlocutors, Madame Merle might have produced an irritat- 
ing effect ; it was so difficult to surprise her. But Isabel, though 
by no means incapable of desiring to be effective, had not at 
present this motive. She was too sincere, too interested in her 
judicious companion. And then, moreover, Madame Merle 
never said such things in the tone of triumph or of boastfulness ; 
they dropped from her like grave confessions. 
A period of bad weather had settled down upon Gardencourt ; 

B 2 



244 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

the days grew shorter, and there was an end to the pretty tea- 
parties on the lawn. But Isabel had long in-door conversations 
with her fellow-visitor, and in spite of the rain the two ladies 
often sallied forth for a walk, equipped with the defensiYe 
apparatus which the English climate and the English genios 
have between them brought to such perfection. Madame Merle 
was very appreciative; she liked almost everything, including 
the English rain. " There is always a little of it, and never too 
much at once," she said ; ** and it never wets you, and it always 
smells good." She declared that in England the pleasures of 
smell were great — that in this inimitable island there vraa a 
certain mixture of fog and beer and soot which, however odd it 
might sound, was the national aroma, and was most agreeable to 
the nostril ; and she used to lift the sleeve of her British over- 
coat and bury her nose in it, to inhale the clear, fine odour of 
the wool. Poor Ralph Touchett, as soon as the autumn had 
begun to define itself, became almost a prisoner ; in bad weather 
he was unable to step out of the house, and he used sometimes 
to stand at one of the windows, with his hands in his pockets, 
and, with a countenance half rueful, half critical, watch Isabel 
and Madame Merle as they walked down the avenue under a 
pair of umbrellas. The roads about Gardencourt were so firm, 
even in the worst weather, that the two ladies always came back 
with a healthy glow in their cheeks, looking at the soles of their 
neat, stout boots, and declaring that their walk had done them 
inexpressible good. Before lunch Madame Merle was always 
engaged ; Isabel admired the inveteracy with which she occupied 
herself. Our heroine had always passed for a person of resources 
and had taken a certain pride in being one ; but she envied the 
talents, the accomplishments, the aptitudes, of Madame Merle. 
She found herself desiring to emulate them, and in this and 



• THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 245 

other ways Madame Merle presented herself as a model. " I 
should like to be like that ! " Isabel secretly exclaimed, more 
than once, as one of her friend's numerous facets suddenly caught 
the light, and before long she knew that she had learned a lesson 
from this exemplary woman. It took no very long time, indeed, 
for Isabel to feel that she was, as the phrase is, under an in- 
fluence. " What is the harm," she asked herself, " so long as 
it is a good one ] The more one is under a good influence the 
better. The only thing is to see our steps as we take them — to 
understand them as we go. That I think I shall always do. 
I needn't be afraid of becoming too pliable ; it is my fault that 
I am not pliable enough." It is said that imitation is the 
sincerest flattery; and if Isabel was tempted to reproduce in 
her deportment some of the most graceful features of that of her 
friend, it was not so much because she desired to shine herself 
as because she wished to hold up the lamp for Madame Merle. 
She liked her extremely ; but she admired her even more than 
she liked her. She sometimes wondered what Henrietta Stack- 
pole would say to her thinking so much of this brilliant fugitive 
from Brooklyn; and had a conviction that Henrietta would 
not approve of it. Henrietta would not like Madame Merle ; 
for reasons that she could not have defined, this truth came 
home to Isabel. On the other hand she was equally sure that 
should the occasion offer, her new friend would accommodate 
herself perfectly to her old ; Madame Merle was too humorous, 
too observant, not to do justice to Henrietta, and on becoming 
acquainted with her would probably give the measure of a tact 
which Miss Stackpole could not hope to emulate. She appeared 
to have, in her experience, a touchstone for everything, and 
somewhere in the capacious pocket of her genial memory she 
would find the key to Henrietta's virtues. " That is .the great 



246 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

r 

thing," Isabel reflected ; " that is the supreme good fortune : to 
be in a better position for appreciating people than they are for 
appreciating you." And she added that this, when one con- 
sidered it, was simply the essence of the aristocratic situation. 
In this light, if in none other, one should aim at the aristocratic 
situation. 

I cannot enumerate all the links in the chain which led 
Isabel to think of Madame Merle's situation as aristocratic — a 
yiew of it never expressed in any reference made to it by that 
lady herself. She had known great things and great people, 
but she had never played a great part. She was one of the 
small ones of the earth; she had not been bom to honours; 
she knew the world too well to be guilty of any fatuous 
illusions on the subject of her own place in it. She had known 
a good many of the fortunate few, and was perfectly aware of 
those points at which their fortune differed from hers. But if 
by her own measure she was nothing of a personage, she had 
yet, to Isabel's imagination, a sort of greatness. To be so 
graceful, so gracious, so wise, so good, and to make so light of it 
all — that was really to be a great lady ; especially when one 
looked so much like one. If Madame Merle, however, made 
light of her advantages as regards the world, it was not because 
she had not, for her own entertainment, taken them, as I have 
intimated, as seriously as possible. Her natural talents, for 
instance; these she had zealously cultivated. After breakfast 
she wrote a succession of letters; her correspondence was a 
source of surprise to Isabel when they sometimes walked 
together to the village post-office, to deposit Madame Merle's 
contribution to the mail. She knew a multitude of people, 
and, as she told Isabel, something was always turning up to bo 
written about. Of painting she was devotedly fond, and made 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 247 

no more of taking a sketch than of pulling off her gloves. At 
Gardencourt she was perpetually taking advantage of an hour's 
sunshine to go out with a camp-stool and a hox of water-colours. 
That she was a brilliant musician we have already perceived, 
and it was evidence of the fact that when she seated herself at 
the piano, as she always did in the evening, her listeners 
resigned themselves without a murmur to losing the entertain- 
ment of her talk. Isabel, since she had known Madame Merle, 
felt ashamed of her own playing, which she now looked upon as 
meagre and artless ; and indeed, though she had been thought 
to play very well, the loss to society when, in taking her place 
upon the music-stool, she turned her back to the room, was 
usually deemed greater than the gain. When Madame Merle 
was neither writing, nor painting, nor touching the piaiio, she 
was usually employed upon wonderful morsels of picturesque 
embroidery, cushions, curtains, decorations for the chimney- 
piece ; a sort of work in which her bold, free invention was as 
remarkable as the agility of her needle. She was never idle, 
for when she was engaged in none of the ways I have mentioned, 
she was either reading (she appeared to Isabel to read everything 
important), or walking out, or playing patience with the cards, 
or talking with her fellow inmates. And with all this, she 
always had the social quality ; she never was preoccupied, she 
never pressed too hard. She laid down her pastimes as easily 
as she took them up ; she worked and talked at the same time, 
and she appeared to attach no importance to anything she did. 
She gave away her sketches and tapestries ; she rose from the 
piano, or remained there, according to the convenience of her 
auditors, which she always unerringly divined. She was, in 
short, a most comfortable, profitable, agreeable person to live 
with. If for Isabel she had a fault, it was that she was not 



248 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 



natural ; by which the girl meant, not that she was affected or 
pretentious ; for from these vulgar vices no woman could have 
been more exempt ; but that her nature had been too much over- 
laid by custom and her angles too much smoothed She had 
become too flexible, too supple ; she was too finished, too civilised. 
She was, in a word, too perfectly the social animal that man 
and woman are supposed to have been intended to be;; and she 
had rid herself of every remnant of that tonic wildness which 
we may assume to -have belonged even to the most amiable 
persons in the ages before country-house life was the fashion. 
Isabel found it difficult to think of Madame Merle as an isolated 
figure ; she existed only in her relations with her fellow-mortals. 
Isabel often wondered what her relations might be with her own 
soul. She always ended, however, by feeling that having a 
charming surface does not necessarily prove that one is super- 
ficial ; this was an illusion in which, in her youth, she had only 
just sufficiently escaped being nourished. Madame Merle was 
not superficial — not she. She was deep ; and her nature spoke 
none the less in her behaviour because it spoke a conventional 
language. " What is language at all but a convention 1 " said 
Isabel. "She has the good taste not to pretend, like some 
people I have met, to express herself by original signs." 

"I am afraid you have suffered much," Isabel once found 
occasion to say to her, in response to some allusion that she had 
dropped. 

"What makes you think thati" Madame Merle asked, with 
a picturesque smile. "I hope I have not the pose of a 
martyr." 

" No ; but you sometimes say things that I think people who 
have always been happy would not have found out." 

"I have not always been happy," said Madame Merle, 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 249 

smiling still, but with a mock gravity, as if she were telling a 
child a secret. " What a wonderful thing ! " 

" A great many people give me the impression of never having 
felt anything very much," Isabel answered. 

"It's very true; there are more iron pots, I think, than, 
porcelain ones. But you may depend upon it that every one has 
something; even the hardest iron pots have a little braise, a 
little hole, somewhere. I flatter myself that I am rather stout 
porcelain ; but if I must tell you the truth I have been chipped 
and cracked ! I do very well for service yet, because I have 
been cleverly mended ; and I try to remain in the cupboard — 
the quiet, dusky cupboard, where there is an odour of stale 
spices — as much as I can. But when I have to come out, and 
into a strong light, then, my dear, I am a horror ! " 

I know not whether it was on this occasion or some other, 
that when the conversation had taken the turn I have just indi- 
cated, she said to Isabel that some day she would relate her 
history. Isabel assured her that she should delight to listen to 
it, and reminded her more than, once of this engagement. 
Madame Merle, however, appeared to desire a postponement, 
and at last frankly told the young girl that she must wait tUl 
they knew each other better. This would certainly happen ; a 
long friendship lay before them. Isabel assented, but at the 
same time asked Madame Merle if she could not trust her — 
if she feared a betrayal of confidence. 

" It is not that I am afraid of your repeating what I say," the 
elder lady answered ; "I am afraid, on the contrary, of your 
taking it too much to yourself. You" would judge me too 
harshly ; you are of the cruel age." She preferred for the pre- 
sent to talk to Isabel about Isabel, and exhibited the greatest 
interest in our heroine's history, her sentiments, opinions, 



250 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

prospects. She made her chatter, and listened to her chatter 
with inexhaustible sympathy and good nature. In all this there 
was something flattering to the girl, who knew that Madame 
Merle knew a great many distinguished people, and had lived, 
as Mrs. Touchett said, in the best company in Europe. Isabel 
thought the better of herself for enjoying the favour of a person 
who had so large a field of comparison ; and it was perhaps 
partly to gratify this sense of profiting by comparison that she 
often begged her friend to tell her about the people she 
knew. Madame Merle had been a dweller in many lands, 
and had social ties in a dozen different countries. "I don't 
pretend to be learned," she would say, "but I think I know 
my Europe;" and she ispoke one day of going to Sweden to 
stay with an old friend, and another of going to Wallachia to 
follow up a new acquaintance. With England, where she 
had often stayed, she was thoroughly familiar ; and for Isabel's 
benefit threw a great deal of light upon the customs of the 
country and the character of the people, who "after all," 
as she was fond of saying, were the finest people in the 
world. 

" You must not think it strange, her staying in the house at 
such a time as this, when Mr. Touchett is passing away," Mrs. 
Touchett remarked to Isabel. " She is incapable of doing anything 
indiscreet ; she is the best-bred woman I know. It's a favour 
to me that she stays ; she is putting off a lot of visits at great 
houses,*' said Mrs. Touchett, who never forgot that when she 
herself was in England her social value sank two or three 
degrees in the scale. " She has her pick of places ; she is not 
in want of a shelter. But I have asked her to stay because I 
wish you to know her. I think it will be a good thing for you. 
Serena Merle has no faults." 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 251 



"If I didn't already like her very much that description 
might alarm me," Isahel said. 

" She never does anything ivrong. I have hrought you out 
here, and I wish to do the best for you. Your sister Lily told 
me that she hoped I would give you plenty of opportunities. I 
give you one in securing Madame Merle. She is one of the most 
brilliant women in Europe." 

" I like her better than I like your description of her," Isabel 
persisted in saying. 

" Do you flatter yourself that you will find a fault in her 1 I 
hope you will let me know when you do." 

" That will be cruel — ^to you," said Isabel. 

" You needn't mind me. You never will find one." 

" Perhaps not ; but I think I shall not miss it." 

" She is always up to the mark ! " said Mrs. Touchett. 

Isabel after this said to Madame Merle that she hoped she 
knew Mrs. Touchett believed she had not a fault. 

" I am obliged to you, but I am afraid your aunt has no per- 
ception of spiritual things," Madame Merle answered. 

" Do you mean by that that you have spiritual faults 1 '* 

" Ah no ; I mean nothing so flat ! I mean that having no 
faults, for your aunt, means that one is never late for dinner — 
that is, for her dinner. I was not late, by the way, the other 
day, when you came back from London ; the clock was just at 
eight when I came into the drawing-room ; it was the rest of 
y(5u that were before the time. It means that one answers a 
letter the day one gets it, and that when one comes to stay with 
her one doesn't bring too much luggage, and is careful not to be 
taken ill. For Mrs. Touchett those things constitute virtue \ it's 
a blessing to be able to reduce it to its elements." 

Madame Merle's conversation, it will be perceived, was enriched 



252 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

with bold, free touches of criticism, which, even when they had 
a restrictive effect, never struck Isabel as ill-natured. It never 
occurred to the girl, for instance, that Mrs. Touchett*s accom- 
plished guest was abusing her ; and this for very good reasons. 
In the first place Isabel agreed with her ; in the second Madame 
Merle implied that there was a great deal more to say ; and in 
the third, to speak to one without ceremony of one's near 
relations was an agreeable sign of intimacy. These signs of 
intimacy multiplied as the days elapsed, and there was none of 
which Isabel was more sensible than of her companion's prefer- 
ence for making Miss Archer herself a topic. Though she 
alluded frequently to the incidents of her own life, she never 
lingered upon them ; she was as little of an egotist as she was of 
a gossip. 

" I am old, and stale, and faded," she said more than once ; 
" I am of no more interest than last week's newspaper. You are 
young and fresh, and of to-day ; you have the great thing — you 
have actuality. I once had it — we all have it for an hour. You, 
however, will have it for longer. Let us talk about you, then ; 
you can say nothing that I shall not care to hear. It is a sign 
that I am growing old — that I like to talk with younger people, 
I think it's a very pretty compensation. If we can't have youth 
within us we can have it outside of us, and I really think we see 
it and feel it better that way. Of course we must be in sympathy 
with it — that I shall always be. I don't know that I shall ever 
be ill-natured with old people — I hope not ; there are certainly 
some old people that I adore. But I shall never be ill-natured with 
the yoimg ; they touch me too much. I give you carte blanche, 
then ; you can even be impertinent if you like ; I shall let it 
pass. I talk as if I were a hundred years old, you sayl Well, 
I am, if you please ; I was bom before the French Eevolution. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 25Sf 

Ah, my dear je viens de loin; I belong to the old world. But 
it is not of that I wish to talk ; I wish to talk about the new. 
You must tell me more about America; you never tell me 
enough. Here I have been since I was brought here as a helpless 
child, and it is ridiculous, or rather it's scandalous, how little I 
know about the land of my birth. There are a great many of us 
like that, over here ; and I must say I think we are a wretched 
set of people. You should live in your own country ; whatever 
it may be you have your natural place there. If we are not 
good Americans we are certainly poor Europeans ; we have no 
natural place here. We are mere parasites, crawling over the 
surface ; we haven't our feet in the soU. At least one can know 
it, and not have illusions. A woman, perhaps, can get on ; a 
woman, it seems to me, has no natural place anywhere ; where- 
ever she finds herself she has to remain on the surface and, more 
or less, to crawl. You protest, my dear? you are horrified? you 
declare you will never crawl ? It is very true that I don't see 
you crawling ; you stand more upright than a good many poor 
creatures. Yery good; on the whole, I don't think you will 
crawL But the men, the Americans ; je votis demands un peu, 
what do they make of it over here ? I don't envy them, trying 
to arrange themselves. Look at poor Kalph Touchett; what 
sort of a figure do you call that? Fortunately he has got a 
consumption ; I say fortunately, because it gives him something • 
to do. His consumption is his career ; it's a kind of position. 
You can say, * Oh, Mr. Touchett, he takes care of his lungs, he 
knows a great deal about climates.' But without that, who 
would he be, what would he represent ? * Mr. Ealph Touchett, 
an American who lives in Europe.' That signifies absolutely 
nothing — it's impossible that anything should signify less. * He 
is very cultivated,' they say ; * he has got a very pretty collection 



254 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

of old anuff-boxes/ The collection is all that is wanted to make 
it pitiful. I am tired of the sound of the word ; I think it's 
grotesque. With the poor old father it's different ; he has his 
identity, and it is rather a massive one. He represents a great 
financial house, and that, in our day, is as good as anything else. 
For an American, at any rate, that will do very welL But I 
persist in thinking your cousin is very lucky to have a chronic 
malady ; so long as he doesn't die of it. It's much better than 
the snuff-boxes. If he were not ill, you say, he would do some- 
thing ] — ^he would take his father's place in the house. My poor 
child, I doubt it ; I don't think he is at all fond of the house. 
However, you know him better than I, though I used to know 
him rather well, and he may have the benefit of the doubt. 
The worst case, I think, is a friend of mine, a countryman of 
ours, who lives in Italy (where he also was brought before he 
knew better), and who is one of the most delightful men I know. 
Some day you must know him. I will bring you together, and 
then you will see what I mean. He is Gilbert Osmond — he 
lives in Italy ; that is all one can say about him. He is exceed- 
ingly clever, a man made to be distinguished ; but, as I say, you 
exhaust the description when you say that he is Mr. Osmond, 
who lives in Italy. No career, no name, no position, no fortune, 
no past, no future, no anything. Oh yes, he paints, if you please 
— paints in water-colours, like me,' only better than I. His 
painting is pretty bad ; on the whole I am rather glad of that. 
Fortunately he is very indolent, so indolent that it amounts to a 
sort of position. He can say, * Oh, I do nothing ; I am too 
deadly lazy. You can do nothing to-day unless you get up at 
five o'clock in the morning.' In that way he becomes a sort of 
exception; you feel that he might do something if he would 
only rise early. He never speaks of his painting — ^to people at 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 266 

large ; he is too clever for that. But he has a little girl — a dear 
little girl ; he does speak of her. He is devoted to her, and if 
it were a career to be an excellent father he would be very dis- 
tinguished. But I am afraid that is no better than the snuff- 
boxes; perhaps not even so good. Tell me what they do in 
America," pursued Madame Merle, who, it must be observed, 
parenthetically, did not deliver herself all at once of these reflec- 
tions, which are presented in a cluster for the convenience of the 
reader. She talked of Florence, where Mr. Osmond lived, and 
where Mrs. Touchett occupied a modigeval palace ; she talked of 
Eome, where she herself had a little pied-a-terre^ with some 
rather good old damask. She talked of places, of people, and 
even, as the phrase is, of " subjects " ; and from time to time 
she talked of their kind old host and of the prospect of his 
recovery. From the first she had thought this prospect small, 
and Isabel had been struck with the positive, discriminating, 
competent way which she took of the measure of his remainder 
of life. One evening she announced definitely that he would 
not live. 

" Sir Matthew Hope told me so, as plainly as was proper," 
she said; "standing there, near the fire, before dinner. He 
makes himseK very agreeable, the great doctor. I don't mean 
that his saying that has anything to do with it. But he says 
such things with great tact. I had said to him that I felt ill 
at my ease, staying here at such a time ; it seemed to me so 
indiscreet — ^it was not as if I could nurse. * You must remain, 
you must remain,' he answered ; ' your office will come later.' 
Was not that a very delicate way both of saying that poor Mr. 
Touchett would go, and that I might be of some use as a 
consoler % In fact, however, I shall not be of the slightest use. 
Your aunt will console herself ; she, and she alone, knows just 



256 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

how mucli consolation she will require. It would be a very- 
delicate matter for another person to undertake to administer 
the dose. "With your cousin it will be diflferent ; he will miss 
his father sadly. But I should never presume to condole with. 
Mr. Ealph ; we are not on those terms." 

Madame Merle had alluded more than once to some undefined 
incongruity in her relations with Ralph Touchett; so Isabel 
took this occasion of asking her if they were not good friends. 

"Perfectly; but he doesn't like me." 

" What have you done to him 1 " 

" Nothing whatever. But one has no need of a reason for 
that." 

" For not liking you 1 I think one has need of a very good 
reason." 

" You are very kind. Be sure you have one ready for the 
day when you begin." 

" Begin to dislike you 1 I shall never begin." 

" I hope not ; because if you do, you will never end That 
is the way with your cousin; he doesn't get over it. It's an 
antipathy of nature — if I can caU it that when it is aU on his 
side. I have nothing whatever against him, and don't bear him 
the least little grudge for not doing me justice. Justice is all I 
ask. However, one feels that he is a gentleman, and would 
never say anything underhand about one. Cartes sur tahley^ 
Madame Merle subjoined in a moment, " I am not afraid of 
him." 

" I hope not, indeed," said Isabel, who added something 
about his being the kindest fellow living. She remembered, 
however, that on her first psking him about Madame Merle he 
had answered her in a manner which this lady might have 
thought injurious without being explicit. There was something 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 257 

between them, Isabel said to herseK, but she said nothing more 
than this. If it were something of importance, it should inspire 
respect ; if it were not, it was not worth her curiosity. With 
all her love of knowledge, Isabel had a natural shrinking from 
raising curtains and looking into unlighted corners. The love 
of knowledge co-existed in her mind with a still tenderer love of 
ignorance. 

But Madame Merle sometimes said things that startled her, 
made her raise her clear eyebrows at the time, and think of the 
words afterwards. 

*' I would give a great deal to be your age again," she broke 
out once, with a bitterness which, though diluted in her cus- 
tomary smile, was by no means disguised by it. " If I could 
only begin again — ^if I could have my life before me ! " 

" Your life is before you yet," Isabel answered gently, for she 
was vaguely awe-struck. 

" No ; the best part is gone, and gone for nothing." 

" Sui^ely, not for nothing," said Isabel 

" Why not — what have I got ] Neither husband, nor child, 
nor fortune, nor position, nor the traces of a beauty which I 
never had." 

" You have friends, dear lady." 

" I am not so sure ! " cried Madame Merle. 

" Ah, you are wrong. You have memories, talents " 

Madame Merle interrupted her. 

" What have my talents brought me 1 Nothing but the need 

of using them still, to get through the hours, the years, to cheat 

myseK with some pretence of action. As for my memories, the 

less said about them the better. You will be my friend till you 

find a better use for your friendship." 

" It will be for you to see that I don't then," said Isabel. 
VOL. I. s 



1 



258 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. . 

" Yes ; I would make an eflfort to keep you," Madame Merle 
rejoined, looking at her gravely. " When I say I should like 
to be your age," she went on, "I mean with your qualities — 
frank, generous, sincere, like you. In that case I should have 
made something better of my life." 

** What should you have liked to do that you have not donel" 

Madame Merle took a sheet of music — she was seated at the 
piano, and had abruptly wheeled about on the stool when ste 
first spoke — and mechanically turned the leaves. At last she 
said — 

" I am very ambitious ! " 

" And your ambitions have not been satisfied ] They must 
have been great." 

" They were great. I should make myself ridiculous by 
talking of them." 

Isabel wondered what they could have been — whether 
Madame Merle had aspired to wear a crown. ** I don't know 
what your idea of success may be, but you seem to me to 
have been successful. To me, indeed, you are an image of 



success." 



Madame Merle tossed away the music with a smile. 

" What is your idea of success 1 " 

"You evidently think it must be very tame," said Isabel. 
" It is to see some dream of one's youth come true." 

" Ah," Madame Merle exclaimed, " that I have never seen ! 
But my dreams were so great — so preposterous. Heaven forgive 
me, I am dreaming now," And she turned back to the piano 
and began to play with energy. 

On the morrow she said to Isabel that her definition of 
success had been very pretty, but frightfully sad. Measured in 
that way, who had succeeded ] The dreams of one's youth, why 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 259 



they were enchanting, they were divine ! Who had ever seen 
such things come to pass 1 

" I myself— a few of them," Isabel ventured to answer. 

" Already? They must have been dreams of yesterday." 

" I began to dream very young," said Isabel, smiling. 

" Ah, if you mean the aspirations of your childhood — that of 
having a pink sash and a doll that could close her eyes." 

« No, I don't mean that." 

"Or a young man with a moustache going down on his 
knees to you.** 

" No, nor that either," Isabel declared, blushing. 

Madame Merle gave a glance at her blush which caused it to 
deepen. 

" I suspect that is what you do mean. We have all had the 
young man with the moustache. He is the inevitable young 
man ; he doesn't count." 

Isabel was silent for a moment, and then, with extreme and 
characteristic inconsequence — 

" Why shouldn't he count 1 There are young men and young 
men." 

" And yours was a paragon — is that what you mean ] " cried 
her friend with a laugh. " If you have had the identical young 
man you dreamed of, then that was success, and I congratulate 
you. Only, in that case, why didn't you fly with him to his 
castle in the Apennines 1 " 

" He has no castle in the Apennines." 

"What has hel An ugly brick house in Fortieth Street? 
Don't tell me that ; I refuse to recognise that as an ideal " 

" I don't care anything about his house," said Isabel 

" That is very crude of you. When you have lived as long 
as I, you will see that every human being has his shell, and 

8 2 



260 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

that you must take the shell into account. By the shell I mean 
the whole envelope of circumstances. There is no such thing 
as an isolated man or woman ; we are each of us made up of a 
cluster of appurtenances. What do you call one's self 1 Where 
does it begin 1 where does it end 1 It overflows into everything 
that belongs to us — and then it flows back again. I know that 
a large part of myself is in the dresses I choose to wear. I have 
a great respect for things I One's self — for other people — is 
one's expression of one's self; and one's house, one's clothes, 
the books one reads, the company one keeps — these things are 
all expressive." 

This was very metaphysical ; not more so, however, than 
several observations Madame Merle had already made. Isabel 
was fond of metaphysics, but she was unable to accompany her 
friend into this bold analysis of the human personality. 

" I don't agree with you," she said. " I think just the other 
way. I don't know whether I succeed in expressing myself, 
but I know that nothing else expresses me. Nothing that 
belongs to me is any measure of me ; on the contrary, it's a 
limit, a barrier, and a perfectly arbitrary one. Certainly, the 
clothes which, as you say, I choose to wear, don't express me ; 
and heaven forbid they should ! " 

" You dress very well," interposed Madame Merle, skilfully. 

"Possibly; but I don't care to be judged by that. My 
clothes may express the dressmaker, but they don't express me. 
To begin with, it's not my own choice that I wear them ; they 
are imposed upon me by society." 

" Should you prefer to go without them ? " Madame Merle 
inquired, in a tone which virtually terminated the discussion. 

I am bound to confess, though it may cast some discredit 
upon the sketch I have given of the youthful loyalty which our 




THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 261 

heroine practised towards this accomplished woman, that Isahel 
had said nothing whatever to her ahout Lord Warburton, and 
had been equally reticent on the subject of Caspar Goodwood. 
Isabel had not concealed from her, however, that she had had 
opportunities of marrying, and had even let her know that they 
were of a highly advantageous kind. Lord Warburton had left 
Lockleigh, and was gone to Scotland, taking his sisters with 
him ; and though he had written to Ralph more than once, to 
ask about Mr. Touchett's health, the girl was not Uable to the 
embarrassment of such inquiries as, had he still been in the 
neighbourhood, he would probably have felt bound to make in 
.person. He had admirable self-control, but she felt sure that 
if he had come to Grardencourt he would have seen Madame 
Merle, and that if he had seen her he would have liked her, 
and betrayed to her that he was in love with her young friend. 

It so happened that during Madame Merle's previous visits 
to Gardencourt — each of them much shorter than the present 
one — ^he had either not been at Lockleigh or had not called at 
Mr. Touchett's. Therefore^ though she knew him by name as 
the great man of that county, she had no cause to suspect him 
of being a suitor of Mrs. Touchett's freshly-imported niece. 

** You have plenty of time,'' she had said to Isabel, in return 
for the mutilated confidences which Isabel made her, and which 
did not pretend to be perfect^ though we have seen that at 
moments the girl had compunctions at having said so much. 
" I am glad you have done nothing yet — that you have it still 
to do. It is a very good thing for a girl to have refused a few 
good offers — so long, of course, as they are not the best she is 
likely to have. Excuse me if my tone seems horribly worldly; 
one must take that view sometimes. Only don't keep on ref us- 
lug for the sake of refusing. Ib's a pleasant exercise of power ; 



262 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

but accepting is after all an exercise of power as welL There is 
always the danger of refusing once too often. It was not the 
one I fell into — I didn't refuse often enough. You are an 
exquisite creature, and I should like to see you married to a 
prime minister. But speaking strictly, you know you are not 
what is technically called a parti. You are extremely good- 
looking, and extremely clever ; in yourself you are quite excep- 
tional You appear to have the vaguest ideas about your 
earthly possessions ; but from what I can make out, you are not 
embarrassed with an income. I wish you had a little money." 

" I wish I had ! " said Isabel, simply, apparently forgetting 
for the moment that her poverty had been a venial fault for two 
gallant gentlemen. 

In spite of Sir Matthew Hope's benevolent recommendation, 
Madame Merle did not remain to the end, as the issue of poor 
Mr. Touchett's malady had now come frankly to be designated. 
She was under pledges to other people which had at last to be 
redeemed, and she left Gardencourt with the understanding that 
she should in any event see Mrs. Touchett there again, or in 
town, before quitting England. Her parting with Isabel was 
even more like the beginning of a friendship than their meeting 
had been. 

" I am going to six places in succession," she said, " but I 
shall see no one I like so well as you. They will all be old 
friends, however ; one doesn't make new friends at my age. I 
have made a great exception for you. You must remember 
that, and you must think well of me. You must reward me by- 
believing in me." 

By way of answer, Isabel kissed her, and though some women 
kiss with facility, there are kisses and kisses, and this embrace 
was satisfactory to Madame Merle. 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 263 

Isabel, after this, was much alone ; she saw her aunt and 
cousin only at meals, and discovered that of the hours that Mrs. 
Touchett was invisible, only a minor portion was now devoted 
to nursing her husband. She spent the rest in her own apart- 
ments, to which access was not allowed even to her niece, in 
mysterious and inscrutable exercises. At table she was grave 
and silent ; but her solemnity was not an attitude — Isabel could 
see that it was a conviction. She wondered whether her aunt 
repented of having taken her own way so much ; but there was 
no visible evidence of this — ^no tears, no sighs, no exaggeration 
of a zeal which had always deemed itself sufficient. Mrs. 
Touchett seemed simply to feel the need of thinking things over 
and summing them up ; she had a little moral account-book — 
with columns unerringly ruled, and a sharp steel clasp — ^which 
she kept with exemplary neatness. 

" If I had foreseen this I would not have proposed your 
coming abroad now," she said to Isabel after Madame Merle had 
left the house. " I would have waited and sent for you next 
year." 

Her remarks had usually a practical ring. 

" So that perhaps I should never have known my uncle ] 
It's a great happiness to me to have come now." 

" That's very well. But it was not that you might know 
your uncle that I brought you to Europe.'* A perfectly veracious 
speech ; but, as Isabel thought, not as perfectly timed. 

She had leisure to think of this and other matters. She took 
a solitary walk every day, and spent much time in turning over 
the books in the library. Among the subjects that engaged her 
attention were the adventures of her friend Miss Stackpole, 
with whom she was in regular correspondence. Isabel liked 
her friend's private epistolary style better than her public ; that 



264 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

is, she thought her public letters would have been excellent if 
they had not been printed. Henrietta's career, however, was 
not so successful as might have been wished even in the interest 
of her private felicity; that view of the inner life of Great 
Britain which she was so eager to take appeai*ed to dance before 
her like an ignis fatuua. The invitation from Lady Pensil, for 
mysterious reasons, had never arrived ; and poor Mr. Bantling 
himself, with all his friendly ingenuity, had been unable to 
explain so grave a dereliction on the part of a missive that had 
obviously been sent. Mr. Bantling, however, had evidently 
taken Henrietta's affairs much to heart, and believed that he 
owed her a set-off to this illusory visit to Bedfordshire. " He 
says he should think I would go to the Continent," Henrietta 
wrote ; '' and as he thinks of going there himself, I suppose his 
advice is sincere. He wants to know why I don't take a view 
of French life ; and it is a fact that I want very much to see 
the new Eepublic. Mr. Bantling doesn't care much about the 
Kepublic, but he thinks of going over to Paris any way. I must 
say he is quite as attentive as I could wish, and at any rate I 
shall have seen one polite Englishman. I keep telling Mr. 
Bantling that he ought to have been an American ; and you 
ought to see how it pleases him. Whenever I say so, he always 
breaks out with the same exclamation — * Ah, but really, come 
now ! ' " A few days later she wrote that she had decided to 
go to Paris at the end of the week, and that Mr. Bantling had 
promised to see her off — perhaps even he would go as far as 
Dover with her. She would wait in Paris till Isabel should 
arrive, Henrietta added ; speaking quite as if Isabel were to 
start on her Continental journey alone, and making no allusion 
to Mrs. Touchett. Bearing in mind his interest in their late 
companion, our heroine communicated several passages from 



THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 265 

Miss Stackpole's letters to Ralph, who followed with an emo- 
tion akin to suspense the career of the correspondent of the 
Interviewer, 

" It seems to me that she is doing very well," he said, " going 
over to Paris with an ex -guardsman ! If she wants something 
to write about, she has only to describe that episode." 

" It is not conventional, certainly," Isabel answered ; " but if 
you mean that — as far as Henrietta is concerned — it is not 
perfectly innocent, you are very much mistaken. You will 
never understand Henrietta." 

" Excuse me ; I understand her perfectly. I didn't at all at 
first; but now I have got the point of view. I am afraid, 
however, that Bantling has not ; he may have some surprises. 
Oh, I understand Henrietta as well as if I had made her ! " 

Isabel was by no means sure of this ; but she abstained from 
expressing further doubt, for she was disposed in these days to 
extend a great charity to her cousin. One afternoon, less than 
a week after Madame Merle's departure, she was seated in 
the library with a volume to which her attention was not 
fastened. She had placed herself in a deep window-bench, 
from which she looked out into the dull, damp park ; and as the 
library stood at right angles to the entrance-front of the house, 
she could see the doctor's dog-cart, which had been waiting for 
the last two hours before the door. She was struck with the 
doctor's remaining so long ; but at last she saw him appear in 
the portico, stand a moment, slowly drawing on his gloves and 
looking at the knees of his horse, and then get into the vehicle 
and drive away. Isabel kept her place for half-an-hour ; there 
was a great stillness in the 'house. It was so great that when 
she at last heard a soft, slow step on the deep carpet of the 
room, she was almost startled by the sound. She turned 



266 THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY. 

quickly away from the window, and saw Balph Touchett 
standing there, with, his hands still in his pockets, but with a 
face absolutely void of its usual latent smile. She got up, and 
her movement and glance were a question. 

« It's all over," said Ralph. 

" Do you mean that my uncle 1 ** And Isabel stopped. 

" My jGather died an hour ago." 

" Ah, my poor Ralph 1 " the girl murmured, putting out her 
hand to him. 



END OF VOL. 1. 



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